The last couple of weeks I have been on edge every time I saw my sister, Sandy’s name pop up on my phone. You see, Sandy has been updating all my family on my Uncle Ed’s progress. Ed’s health has been slowly deteriorating for the last several months. This last week, Ed was admitted back into the hospital and there truly was nothing left that the doctors could do, but just let Ed die without pain. I had been praying that somehow, God would allow my dad to come down from heaven and call Ed home. I just wanted Ed to feel comforted by the fact that heaven was waiting for him. Ed loved life here on earth. His passion for his work and family was deep. His contagious laugh and smile always caught my eye when I visited. After losing my dad (Ed’s brother) years ago, Ed was the one connection that I still had with dad. Their personalities were so similar and I could still see a hint of dad within Ed’s laugh. So last night when God called Ed home, it was hard to swallow.
That was it. No more dad. Nothing was left here on earth that I could touch, feel and see that reminded me so much of my own dad.
Ed’s 85th birthday was just weeks away, and I know he was holding out for that big day. After all, he had lived a life of celebration, happiness, and joy. I am sure Ed’s family saw his anger, but not me. I will always remember his laugh. The only time I ever saw Ed get angry was when Ohio State was losing a game. Just like my dad, Ed would yell at the refs, the players and the coaches. You know, to somehow change the outcome of the game on the tv screen. You football fans know what I am talking about.
Ed’s work was his passion. I am sure there is some wonderful detailed explanation of what he did, but all I can tell you is he was a very intelligent man. His work was centered on storing and disposing of nuclear waste. The friendships he formed from his business were strong and many were from out of the country. After meeting several of his friends, I could see that he truly was respected and loved by many. Even though our time with Aunt Jerry and Uncle Ed was limited by miles of highway, when we did get together, it was always a time of meaningful conversation and laughter. My cousins, though I saw them seldom, were always so welcoming and loving to us. Ed and Jerry definitely shared that spirit of hospitality with their entire family.
Throughout my childhood, I can remember pieces of times that we gathered with Ed’s family. One time in particular was at his house in Leesburg, VA. I was so excited that Aunt Jerry let us all go out and pick raspberries and blackberries from bushes in their yard (their kids were probably rolling their eyes at my excitement), but for some reason that one part of our trip stands out so brilliantly to me. It was something I had never done before, and that berry picking was the highlight of my trip. Most vivid are the memories from recent years. Like when Pete and I took the kids out to visit Washington DC and stayed with Jerry and Ed. Pete had a hole in his jacket pocket and placed our car keys in that very pocket. I am sure you all can see where this is going. Yep. Somewhere on the Metro was our only set of car keys. In the pooring down rain, Ed came and picked us up at the Metro Station. Ed and Jerry had quite a laugh out of this fiasco. As the steam was spewing out of my head at Pete’s poor choice, Ed made it all dissipate with his jovial laugh. He just had a way with me. He could swoosh away my anger in seconds.
Ed will be missed greatly. Like I said before, his presence gave me the sense that my dad was still around. So 14 years after dad’s death, I still had this connection with his brother that I will be forever grateful. I was having a hard time understanding the timing of Ed’s death, along with the suffering that he endured, so this morning, I went to the devotional to see what it read for November 28th (the day of Ed’s death). Just like always, it was perfect for that day. Almost like it was written for my family. “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young read as follows:
Rest in the deep assurance of my unfailing love. Let your body, mind and spirit relax in my presence. Release into my care anything that is troubling you, so that you can focus your full attention on me. Be awed by the vast dimensions of my love for you: wider, longer, higher, and deeper than anything you know. Rejoice that this marvelous love is yours forever. The best response to this glorious gift is a life steeped in thankfulness. Every time you thank me, you acknowledge that I am your Lord and provider. This is the proper stance for a child of God: receiving with thanksgiving. Bring me the sacrifice of gratitude and watch to see how much I bless you.
So today, I thank God for the gift of Ed and his family. I thank God for taking Ed out of pain and up to heaven. I thank God for the gift of loved ones. I thank God for a funeral to celebrate a man of many gifts. I thank God for reminding me that life is fragile and can end at a moment’s notice. I thank God for the memories that he allows to continue to unfold in my head. I thank God for eternal life.