Sunday, March 06, 2011


Late last night I heard the message that my great uncle was receiving hospice care. This afternoon I received the message that my great uncle had passed away in the night. Uncle Bill battled cancer, has been married for about 57 years, has 3 children and 3 grandchildren; and still I cried when the voicemail told me his body is the only part of him here on earth anymore. He has finished his earthly race, and the rest of us left behind have to carry on without him.

That's what I feel the most when loved ones die that I know had accepted Christ' gift of life. I feel a tension that I'm supposed to be glad for them, and am jealous, even, but I sorely miss them.

Uncle Bill was a great southern storyteller (this coming from a northern girl). He was the youngest of 11 (10 lived to adulthood and now only 1 is still living), born and raised on a farm although he did manage to go to high school in rural west Kentucky, something only 1 of his brothers also did. The luxuries you get as the youngest, I guess. A bus started running when he was a kid, so they only had to walk 1.5 miles to the bus which took them the rest of the way to the schoolhouse. Our culture is so different now - I don't think many Americans would dream of letting their children walk a mile to go to school. We might even call it cruel and unusual.

A piece of history that lived on through him is gone, now, it seems. It will be ever easier to think that the way things are now is the way they should be, or better, because we deserve more. And we'll forget as a culture where we came from, sons and daughters of immigrants and revolutionaries and oppressed peoples, fighting against the grain to provide for our children and allow more of them to live longer, instead of seeing several of our children die as infants and a few, hopefully, to live to adulthood.

I am so glad for Uncle Bill's stories, that I could see that other world he grew up in and it's not just a story we learn in school, that we didn't always have cars and electricity and phones, and it wasn't really that long ago.

No comments: