To this day, Essie Hendricks firmly believes her late husband, Harry, had what she terms "heavenly help" when writing a poem not long before his passing in 2016.
"I don't know what inspired him to sit down and write it," she said. "He had never done anything like that before."
Essie called me last week and told me the story of her husband and the poem. She asked whether I would be interested in sharing it, considering what time of year it was. After meeting with Essie and reading Harry's work, I felt it would provide a perfect ending to this year and hope for the next.
Harry passed away at age 84. He and Essie had been married 25 years. These were some of his final thoughts in late 2016 as he looked toward 2017:
"Grant me the strength from day to day, / To bear what burdens come my way. / Grant me throughout this bright New Year / More to endure and less to fear.
"Help me live that I may be / From spite and petty malice free. / Let me not bitterly complain when / Cherished hopes of mine prove vain.
"Or spoil with deeds of hate and rage, / Some fair tomorrow's spotless rage. / Lord, as the days shall come and go, / In courage let me stronger grow.
"Lord, as the year dawns today, / Help me put my faults away. / Let me be big in little things,?Grant me the joy which friendship brings.
"Keep me from selfishness and spite, / Let me be wise in what is right. / A Happy New Year grant that I / May bring no tear to any eye.
"When this New Year in time shall end, / Let it be said I've played the friend, / Have lived and loved and labored here, / And made it a Happy Year."
When I talked with Essie, her love for her late husband was so obvious, so apparent. She smiled quite a bit and enjoyed talking about him.
Harry was a veteran, having served in both the Marines and Army.
Essie was proud, and rightly so, that he had been asked to be grand marshal of the 2015 Veterans Day parade.
Essie was most proud, though, of Harry's poem. She would look at the paper it was written on, then look away. And then she would smile.
"He had help writing that poem," she said. "I will always believe that."