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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Titanic's Last American Survivor

Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the Titanic, died May 6, 2006, at the age of 99 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

Although two or more survivors are still living, they were less than a year old when the Titanic plunged below the Atlantic April 15, 1912. Lillian Asplund, five at the time, could recall the event. Her father and three brothers perished, but her mother and another brother survived with her.

Life is precious but uncertain. Who can explain why so many perished while others survived when an iceberg carved its way into a ship that was supposed to be invulnerable? Who can explain why one human life ends in crib death while another exceeds a century? We may not be able to answer such questions, but we can trust the One who holds all the answers to life’s mysteries and long for a heaven void of tears, sorrow, and pain.

When I read or hear about the Titanic, a couple of personal memories and a humbling question come to mind. My parents, brother Bill, and I crossed the Atlantic in May, 1939, leaving our native Scotland behind for a new life in Canada. Although I was not quite four at the time, I remember seeing icebergs and participating in life-jacket drills. World War ll had begun, and our ship was an easy target. My parents often mentioned later that on its next crossing it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. So I ask even now, why was my life spared? After all, my parents could have booked passage for the next crossing.

Surely, our lives are in His hands and He has a purpose for them. We cannot determine how long we will live, but to a great extent we can determine how well we will live. If we serve the Lord, we will enjoy the truly good life, full of significance, peace, joy, and awareness of His presence.

© Jim Dyet

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