Wednesday, July 06, 2005
When Extraordinary People Meet Less Than Extraordinary Circumstances
I’ve actually have been wanting to start this series for quite a while but was faced with several challenges in the conception of it. A significant part of my quandary is that the entire premise of my blog (or web log for Doug) is “nonsense” (which by definition is “a message that seems to convey no meaning”) and this new “series” definitely conveys some sort of meaning and doesn’t follow the general focus of my blog. Another predicament I found myself in was that I couldn’t find a worthy subject. So, that being said, please humor me on a random “emotional” post from time to time.
It has occurred to me in the recent past that there are some extremely brave people out there, who never receive merit badges in war, save children in peril, or rescue entire countries (albeit small ones) with their bare hands. These people are those who have to wake up and face an unpleasant reality and are brave enough to confront it every day. Sometimes takes a lot of courage to stand while the wind and rain is pelting you in the face and threatening your very existence.
The first individual that has struck me with this “ordinary” kind of bravery is my Uncle Forrest. Forrest married my dad’s oldest sister, Betty, about 45-50 years ago and has been a member of my family ever since. About 3 months ago, while I was still in Kansas, Forrest went to the doctor. Diagnosis: Stage 4 Lung Cancer. Prognosis: 3-6 months.
One of the biggest perks of being a member of my dad’s family is Wally World. Since my grandparents died, Wally World has become something of a legend with all the magic of Christmas, all the warmth of July, and all the relatives one could want. This year 3 months into a prognosis of 3-6, my Uncle Forrest and Aunt Betty flew from Pennsylvania to Michigan to attend Wally World.
Courage does not begin to explain what my family witnessed. Refusing to nap during the day for the fear that he would miss something, he sat in a lawn chair with baseball hat resolutely pulled over his head, and watched as children 70 years younger than him caught frogs in the pond and played at the beach. It dawned on me that he hadn’t come to Michigan as “one last trip” or as one of the thing to “cross off his list,” but he came to Michigan to say good-bye. A very arduous task for even the strongest individual.
And he did. He said good-bye. He hugged and kissed everyone, wished God’s blessings on us, thanked us for being part of his family, and said good-bye. He didn’t make a spectacle out of it. It wasn’t a show, or a toast at the end of a meal, it was just a quiet farewell.
So, good-bye Uncle Forrest. It breaks my heart to see you go. I love you so much; you have almost been a grandfather to me. Thank-you for be brave enough to say good-bye to me in person, because I was barely brave enough to look you in the eye. God bless you.
Even so: “Oh death where is your victory? Oh grave where is your sting?”