Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Taps for My Uncle

My Uncle John was only 58 years-old when he suffered a massive coronary. He was born and raised on the family farm in southeast Iowa. He loved to tell stories of his youth... about experiences that don't happen anymore... like the horseback cattle drive he did from a neighbor's farm to a farm several miles away. Like his father, he was a deeply honest conservative Christian. He also was the spitting image of his father. I remember the lean, muscle that rippled as he worked... his dark black hair and trademark mustache. A very handsome man, he lived his principles and passed those principles to his three children.

During Vietnam, Uncle John tried to enlist, but had a physical problem that precluded his service. In later years, he would love to hear the Army stories that my brother and I told. A steady man who deeply loved his family, he is the sort of man that makes my service worth the sacrifices.

When I was young, Uncle John moved his little family from our small Iowa community and headed West to California. I remember missing my cousins Michelle and Johnner. For years I hoped that they would come back and can still point to the pew in our little church where they would sit.

Uncle John took up work as an electrician and was widely sought out as a hardworking expert. There were several years where we didn't keep up with one another... as these things go. But the death of my grandparents brought us all back together... though the miles remained between us. We spoke on the phone a couple of times a year and my mother (the oldest) would keep us filled in on their lives. With my hectic schedule, I found time to visit them in California in August of 2005. I'm so grateful that I did.

My Uncle was a car enthusiast who could tinker-with and fix anything. In an age of metrosexuals with an apparent lack of skills, he set an example that I will try to live up to.

I can picture him now... in Heaven... Grandpa puttering around in the Machine Shed... shirt off... an ancient ball glove tucked in the back pocket of his jeans... waiting for Grandma to stop fussing over her oldest son... waiting for a long overdue game of catch. While I miss him and feel the unfairness of a life left early... I am also jealous. He is with family and our Lord... waiting for the rest of us to join him.

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free!
I follow the plan God laid for me.
I saw His face, I heard His call,
I took His hand and left it all...
I could not stay another day,
To love, to laugh, to work or play;
Tasks left undone must stay that way.
And if my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss...
Ah yes, these things I, too, shall miss.
My life's been full, I've savoured much:
Good times, good friends, a loved-one's touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief—
Don't shorten yours with undue grief.
Be not burdened with tears of sorrow,
Enjoy the sunshine of the morrow.

- Rhonda Braswell