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June 5th, 2009

The Peaceful End

After a short yet arduous journey that began - suddenly - last Wednesday, Riley Claude Prestenback, on June 5th, 2009 and at 5:12am, took his final breath and completed a sojourn on this planet that began eighty-two years ago on December 9th, 1926.

A gentleman always knows when to leave.

A prideful, private gentleman until the very end, I will simply say - for now - that his passage into the next stage of his eternal life was gentle and palpably peaceful.  I stood at his bedside, softly whispering words of love and encouragement as I stroked his silken hair; the lone, living sentinel aiding him in his serene transition and the final witness to the loosing of his Earth-bound ties.  It was a beautiful moment that has irrevocably altered my perceptions on life and death and profoundly altered my heart in infinitesimal ways.  It was an honor to see him to the end of his road; to bid him the final farewell as his spirit soared - free - to dimensions I, for the briefest of precious moments, glimpsed as he fled the prison his body had so recently become.

On this, I will speak more later; when my mind has had time to rest.

At present, I have yet to sleep since awakening at 5:30am yesterday morning.  Stringing together two words is an enormous chore in this state (my apologies, therefore, if any part of this post is rambling or nonsensical), and the full story of my grandfather's final journey deserves a clear head for its telling.  At such a time, I can better attempt to put words to something that is, nearly, indescribable.

For now, I can ease your minds by stating, simply, that his passing was "soft as cream", as they say.  Not only was it smooth and untroubled...it was beautiful.

My family - including extended family, friends, and a tangled, rambling mess of "adopted" grandchildren and children that spans a good portion of the United States - hopes that you can join with us in honoring and celebrating the life of Riley Prestenback; a life that - though filled with much pain, suffering, and loss - was also one of smiles, laughter, and unflappable love for family and "adopted" family.  His was a life spent in service to others;  from his time as a medic in the Army during World War II to nursing his mother, sister, wife, and mother-in-law (among others) through protracted illnesses, none of which had a happy ending.

As I said, we do hope that you can join us in honoring this special man.

Services will be from 4-8pm on Sunday, June 7th at the Fellowship Hall next to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church at 11140 Hwy. 77 in Maringouin, Louisiana.

Viewing will resume at 8:00 am on Monday, June 8th, same location but in the church itself, and will continue until services at 11:00am; followed by burial in the mausoleum at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Cemetery.

I choose not to view these services as en end, but - rather - celebrating a life beautifully well-lived.

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