Today is my Great Uncle Earl’s funeral. I can’t be home with my family in Pennsylvania to say goodbye to him, so I’ll celebrate his life and honor his memory here, in my own way.
My Uncle Earl was a very good man. He set a powerful example for his family and community about how to live a generous life. He’s the type of person who spoke kindly of everyone, and never made judgments. In the 23 years that I knew him, I don’t think I ever heard him utter a harsh word about anyone. He was patient, thoughtful, quiet, and warm. Uncle Earl was a hard worker, and he farmed the land that he loved. He helped with chores for as long as he could, even when he had to use two canes to walk out to the barn.
Uncle Earl raised a loving family, and they returned that love to him in the months leading up to his death. He was able to die on the farm where he had spent almost 95 years of his life, in the company of the people who meant the most to him.
In the last weeks of his life, Uncle Earl became confused. Sometimes he didn’t understand where he was, or who he was with. But even as his earthly world changed and became unclear to him, his faith in God did not. He spent a lot of his time lying in bed and talking to Jesus.
The sadness that I feel over my Uncle Earl’s passing is purely selfish. I’m sad because I’ll never see him again on this earth. Death itself isn’t sad to me. In fact, its the most natural and expected part of the human experience. Uncle Earl was ready to die. He said so himself. He knew where he was going, and he knew who he would see when he got there. I smile at the thought of Aunt Freda greeting him with open arms.