This past Monday I traveled to North Carolina to be by my father’s side at the loss of his brother, my uncle Sandy. Sandy was my father’s older brother, just 58 years old. He was also my father’s best friend. My father retired a few years ago and moved back to the place of his roots. Over the last few years he’s gotten to experience life with his brother, and they loved each other deeply (even though they are two of the orneriest, macho men you could ever meet).
Sandy died Saturday while my sister-in-law’s wedding was going on. The news was sad, but Sandy’s health had been failing for while, so it was a tad expected. The viewing was Monday and the funeral was Tuesday.
Part of being there with my dad for the funeral was being around my extended family. Over the last several years I’ve spent some serious time diving into my family history, particularly extended family (grandparents and great-grandparents) and how they helped make me who I am. Most of that time, I’ve spent focusing on how they gave me the problems and struggles that I carry today. But, thats really only part of the story.
While I was there I saw family members that I haven’t seen in years: Cousins, Aunts, & Uncles. Some of them looked remarkably older, most of them have children, but they’ve all grown up.
In them I saw something that I really haven’t given much attention to: they love each other. You could see it in how they talked to each other, and to me (who many hadn’t seen in a long time). You could hear the love in what they remembered about each other.
There is this beautiful section of writing in one of the Apostle Paul’s letter’s to the Corinthians where he talks about being someone who loves. In only the brilliance that he could share, he reminds us that you are nothing if you are not loved and do not love. He closes the chapter by reminding that for those who love and follow Jesus there are three postures of our heart that never change: faith, hope, and love. He closes by reminding that love is the greatest of these. You know, in the end, love really does win.
When my father walked out of the room after spending a few last minutes with the body of his brother he cried, bitterly. I was reminded then that my father has this beautiful gift of loving completely. I’ve never wondered if he loved me. I’ve never doubted it. It was always there. I admire that about him, and it’s something he taught me to do.
If there was something to hang your hat on in a family, I guess thats just about as good place as any, to love each other, because, in the end, love outlasts a multitude of other pursuits and is far more valuable.