Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Gift of Family

Yesterday was the funeral for my sweet Uncle Frank.  Suffering with cancer, his journey at the end was like my mom's in so many ways.  I was especially sad for my aunt and cousin, but I'm sure everyone had a touch of relief that he was no longer in such terrible pain.

Uncle Frank turned 82 this year and was the oldest of 11.  One brother died at birth, and the rest have remained to this point.  I see that as a blessing that they have all had one another for so many years.

We do not live near most of the family and some of them I have not seen in years.  Actually, a lot of them have never met my youngest two children....and that's a little sad.  I mean, Amelia is almost 10....  There was lots of talk of planning a reunion, so I'm hoping that will happen and that situation can be remedied.

But yesterday, as I sat studying those who were there, I realized what a bunch of humble and gentle men and women these people, my kinfolk, are.  They got it honest.  My grandmother definitely had a quiet, gentle spirit.  One of those people that it's hard to imagine she ever raised her voice.  Not that I think she never did - I mean, with that many kids, how could you not? Lol!  But you never know.  Maybe she did, maybe she didn't.  Overall, though, Proverbs 31:26 is a verse that comes to mind when I think of her:  She openeth her mouth with wisdom; And the law of kindness is on her tongue.

All these children have been successful, hardworking individuals - owning their own businesses, getting college educations, joining (or drafted into) the military, working hard for many years and retiring from large companies - and most doing so while farming and raising plentiful gardens.  Even in success, I don't think any of them have forgotten where they came from.

It was reiterated yesterday what lowly means they all started from.  The youngest brother who is a minister, Uncle Merle, helped with the funeral, and he spoke of how after some of the older siblings had left home, they all looked forward to seeing them come back to visit.  Being the oldest, Uncle Frank was the first to leave home, and Uncle Merle told stories of how he sent money to them and also purchased their first television.  They were one of the firsts in the community to have a television, so that was a big deal!  My daddy (#4 in the lineup) was still living at home at the time and remembered that as well.  My uncle went on to say how meals may have been small any other time during the year, but they always looked forward to the holidays when there would be plenty because of siblings coming back home and because of what they would bring with them.

Family is so important, and I realized yesterday how proud and thankful I should be to be a part of this one.  I hope in the years to come that I get to make up for lost time and get to know my long distance uncles, aunts, and cousins even better.  I look forward to hearing more stories like those above - in a happier setting of course. 

One of the things I'll remember most about Uncle Frank is how he liked to pick on people.  With him being one of the few siblings that lived relatively close by, we spent many Sunday afternoons at his home when I was growing up.  I especially remember how he loved to ask my sister, "How's your love life?"  She would usually answer, "Fine, how's yours?"  He'd usually have a snappy comeback, and I think this dialogue repeated itself on many occasions.  (I think she was happy when she got married and didn't get asked that question anymore.) ;>)

Most important is the fact that so many of these family members have a strong faith in God, and I believe my Uncle Frank did.  I love the peace that brings, knowing this is not the end. 

Rest in peace, Uncle Frank. 

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