Uncle Jim passed away on Tuesday. The funeral was Thursday. It's been a whirlwind couple of days. My sister Joan and Dad coordinated flights so I could pick them up at the airport and drive to Johnstown for the Wednesday night viewing and Thursday morning service. Another sister drove 4 1/2 hours to get there. Two brothers also came a distance as did my son Nathan. It was important to us to pay respects to the Uncle that kept our family gathering together every summer since as long as I can remember. I know my cousins, their kids, and our kids know each other too (at least the ones who attend often), and that's a privilege. We're so grateful for his efforts!
The service was wonderful. A good send off -- with lots of boating references. Uncle Jim was a Navy man back in world war II and loved taking his kids and then grandkids to a lake on his big boat. The grandchildren's boating stories added much needed comic relief as they tried to squeak out remembrances and tributes to their Pap. There was much weeping, tearful sobbing. Aunt Marion was the anchor to her dear grandkids. They all promised they'd look out for her now and be there for her. That while they were absolutely going to pieces and she getting up to hug and comfort them and help them back to their seats. She is amazing. My cousins too, Aunt Marion's kids did so well through all this. They've been comforting others even through their own loss. Let me share their daughter Marge's words to me in an email a day or two before Uncle Jim passed...
Mom is hanging in there like a rock, she very rarely leaves his side, during the day Jim, myself and the grandkids stay close by, but she refuses to have anyone stay with her at night. Through this whole experience I am thankful that he is not in any pain, and that we have the time to let him know how we feel. I am also thankful that there is no need to try to make up for lost time. My brother and I have had a lifetime of giving and receiving love from Dad We will be able to say good-by to him and have no regrets.
And that's how it was -- they spent the last month (and probably much more) enjoying every last day with their dad. I believe he was ready to sail away, cross to the other shore and be welcomed by Jesus into that everlasting kingdom which holds all the best (better than we can imagine) of this world and none of the trouble.
I'm going to go there someday too. You?