A couple of weeks ago we buried the mortal remains of my last uncle that was still alive on my father’s side of my family.
Uncle Thomas was 82 years old when he died of a heart attack.
He was a rancher. He was still working his cattle about 3 years ago on an ATV and had an accident from which he should have died but never fully recovered either.
When I was a child he was our neighbor.
I never remember hearing one cross word out of him for any child except for a mild scolding if we frightened his sheep.
He raised with his wife Vera four daughters. Two older than me and twins a little younger. I can’t imagine raising four girls.
As we sat in the church waiting to carry his casket out into the cold rain I heard of another side of my uncle.
The pastor who officiated over the service spoke of how Thomas and Vera never missed a Sunday.
He spoke of their faithfulness in giving both of their money and their time.
He spoke of how my uncle was a big man physically, mentally and spiritually.
He told of how when the church was facing a problem he could go to Thomas and a few others and always depend on sound and reasoned advice.
He was never going to the pastor and griping about this or that it wasn’t his style or in his personality. But he was there and faithful when needed.
One of his daughters rebelled and was lost for a time to us when many of us were lost during the 60’s.
She came home from California with a beautiful son who is now a wonderful man in his own right.
The girls are all successful on many levels some extraordinarily so.
He leaves his daughters and several grandchildren and even some great-grandchildren as a legacy.
He leaves his wife of over 60 years alone for the first time in all those decades since WWII.
He leaves my dad who idolized his older brother and two sisters both older.
He leaves my brothers and I and other cousins with the empty place that Uncle Thomas was in our lives especially as children.
He was a quiet man with a dry wit much like my grandfather.
No flash, no loudness. He didn’t question his place in the world or his relationship with God. He accepted both as normal and lived.
He was not famous nor do I think he would have wanted it.
He was not rich so to speak but he and his did not want. He worked hard every day. Physical work.
He lived a good life.
He was a good man.
We should hope that as much can be said about us when the time comes.