Our dear, sweet Dad, James Taylor Scorgie, passed away on March 8, 2017 in Kelowna, British Columbia. He was 90 years old. As he breathed his last, I had the privilege of whispering in his ear the sacred words “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith . . .” and then he was gone.
Dad was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in 1926—during a blizzard, as he always reminded us. He grew up in the East York neighborhood of Toronto, went off to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the 1940s, fell in love with and married our mother, and embarked on his first calling as a minister of a number of churches in British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Dad considered it one of the great privileges of his life to have been personally mentored by the renowned Christian mystic A. W. Tozer. During the second half of his career, he worked in the employment and immigration sector of the Canadian government. Then, in the late 1980s, at the onset of retirement, he and Mom moved all the way out to Kelowna, British Columbia and with considerable courage launched a whole new life there. They excelled at hospitality. Then, after Mom died in 1999, Dad found a comforting pathway forward with another life companion in the gracious person of Rita Beitel.
Through all of these comings and goings, Dad faithfully embodied the Christian faith he first embraced in his late teens in Toronto. Toward the end of his life, he would find himself waking early in the morning with the words of a long-forgotten hymn ringing verbatim in his mind. It was an older Scottish hymn which began, fittingly, with the words “The sands of time are sinking . . .” But Dad’s favorite stanza, the one that brought tears to his eyes, read:
“I’ll bless the hand that guided
I’ll bless the heart that planned
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.”
That was indeed the benedictory spirit of his final days. Looking back, we treasure the memory of his 90th birthday celebration, at which the picture shown above was taken.
Next week, on July 8, a few of us will gather at the old Methodist cemetery in rural Edgar, Ontario, north of Toronto, where Dad’s remains will be buried next to Mom’s, beneath a headstone inscribed with words he chose years ago: “Heirs Together.” The inauspicious little hamlet of Edgar has been home to our relatives since their immigration from Scotland and Ireland in the mid-19th century. So many family members are buried there. It’s a quiet, verdant place. It really does feel, for all of us, like the green, green grass of home. Farewell, dear Dad, until we meet again . . . in Emmanuel’s Land.