December 21, 2012

How do you say goodbye to a man who meant the world to you?  A good, decent, honest man, who never harmed anyone and tried to do good all his life.  If you have been following my blog for a while now you know that my heart is split between Indiana and South Dakota.  I was born in Indiana and lived there until I was five, at which time my mother and I moved to South Dakota following her marriage.  I was such a lucky girl--since I never knew my biological father (he died young) I had my mother's two brothers who stepped up to the task of 'fathering' a little girl.  I never lacked for a male presence in my life--my grandfather and uncles loved me like I was their own.  And then when my mother remarried, I gained a father who gathered me into his arms and his heart and held on tight.  I was so very blessed. 

After moving to South Dakota and starting a new life as a prairie girl, I went back to Indiana every summer to hang out with my cousins and enjoy the rural life I had left behind--picking blackberries on my grandparents' farm, fishing in Grandpa's stock pond, going to the county fair (where I envied my cousin's ability to turn out amazing blue ribbon coffee cake braids!), cherry cokes at the local drugstore, and attending church at my beloved Kingsley United Methodist, where I had earned five perfect attendance Sunday School pins when I was little.  I sat in the 'family' pew and felt so safe--five generations of my family had worshiped at that church.  My favorite tv show during my teen years was the Waltons...remember that show?  The strong family ties and love they had for each other reminded me so much of my Indiana family.

In September of this year my husband and I traveled back to Indiana to celebrate my Uncle Lowell's 85th birthday.  On the night before the party we gathered for dinner at my cousin's house to watch a tribute video to this beautiful and loving man.  He came and sat next to me, and took my hand, much like in the picture above.  There we sat, watching old pictures and reminiscing about happy days in times past.  I had the chance to tell him how much I loved him, and for that I will always be grateful.  Because two weeks ago, in a vicious, senseless home robbery, the man we all loved so much was taken from us in a brutal fashion, shot to death over a flat screen television.  There are no words, there is no poetry, that can ease this sorrow, this overwhelming grief that threatens to engulf my family.  And yet, the pastor at his funeral urged us to move past the final day of his life and focus instead on the impact he had on all our lives and the legacy of love he has left behind. 

He loved his family.  He cared for his friends.  He worked the family farm.  He delighted in his grandchildren.  He took joy in his Model A car and his wagons and team of horses.  He worshiped at church, and lived his beliefs every single day of his life.  And he made a little girl feel loved and safe and secure, no small feat.  Thank you, Uncle Lowell, for always being there for me.  I will miss you every day of my life. 

After great pain, a formal feeling comes

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was   it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

This article contains a beautiful story of the final tribute to Lowell by his friends, who drove to Kentucky to pick up his old team, Kate and Pearl, and used the family wagon to transport Lowell one last time

1 comment:

  1. Martha, what a loving tribute to your beloved Uncle. I am so, so sorry, What a kind face he has. No one should have to leave this world is so violent a fashion. There are no words that can help, that I know. Just know that I'm thinking of you.

    I'm so glad you got to see him for his birthday.