so today . . . i had a great blog rolling around in my head. i even had pictures . . .
that was earlier today. but it's going to have to wait until another day, because i have spent a good portion of my afternoon and evening making decisions about travel plans, doing laundry, packing, and trying to help the people around me make decisions about these same things. you see, yesterday my uncle passed away.
he was almost 80 years old. in fact, his family had been planning a big 80th birthday bash for him this summer. they had rented houses at the beach and were going to spend some time just enjoying him, and each other, and honoring his life. he had some health issues that made his life challenging some days, but he seemed to be managing fairly well with the help of modern medicine and his very patient wife.
he loved to fish and golf. and go to garage sales--that is where i remember him most vividly. whenever we would visit my parents in the summer, i knew that we were going to get up ridiculously early friday and saturday mornings so we could get in the car and race around the area looking at other people's stuff and hoping to find a treasure. which we did, more often than not. of course, everyone's definition of a treasure is different, and uncle jim was always on the lookout for something really great and terribly underpriced that he could turn into a profit. my dad was always looking for fishing gear or camping stuff or anything that someone had mentioned to him to "keep an eye out for." rollie's idea of treasure for a while was clamp-on shop lights. i know he looked for other stuff too, but it seemed like we always came home with clamp on shop lights. i looked for toys i could use at school, and my mom had a keen eye for glassware, puzzles, jewelry, and books. oh, and mcdonald's toys (remember the dalmatians?) and we never knew just what was going to catch diandra's eye . . .
so we would all pile in the car in the practically pre-dawn hours--my dad would drive, and my mom and uncle would be in the front seat, with rollie, diandra, and i in the back. and that is where the fun would begin. because uncle jim would juggle the newspaper that had the addresses for the sales with the thomas guide of maps and tell my dad where to go. but we didn't always end up where we thought we would, and words would be exchanged. sometimes my dad would end up with the steering wheel AND the newspaper AND the thomas guide--just briefly. they would sometimes "have words" but i don't remember them ever really being mad at each other.
what i do remember is lots of laughing. when i picture my uncle, i always see him smiling. his life wasn't always easy, especially in the last several years. i realize that i had a very limited view of him, because after we moved to california, i didn't get to see him much. but in the ways that matter, i think he would say he was blessed. he had a family who loved him--both the family he grew up in and the family that he raised. he loved God, and he was a good guy. when his time was up, he went the way most of us hope that we will--without any warning or suffering or extreme pain, just living life one day and then transitioning into the arms of his Lord as he slept--and leaving a legacy of faith that will live on in the lives of his children and grandchildren, and also in their children.
so i am headed up north tomorrow, because i want to be there to help honor his life. i want to hear what others remember about him, so that i will have a more complete picture. i want to be a part of the mixture of laughter and tears that always take place when we say goodbye. and i want his family to know that i loved him and will miss him . . . especially on those early friday and saturday mornings when we need someone besides THE DRIVER to read the thomas guide . . .