Thursday, February 04, 2010
[Written for and "shifted" from a family site.]
The following thoughts followed the loss of a favored Uncle, Gale Miller. I say favored (not favorite) because I favored all my uncles and like my Uncle Bly (who sometimes told me I was his favorite niece, with a wink) considered the one present my favorite at the time. Uncle Gale passed away just 19 days before his 100th birthday and like so many of his generation he was an exceptional person. Hence, the following:
The patterns of life are ever shifting. Change is perpetual, in some ways predictable, in other ways not so much. Change is something we all resist at times. The change that emerges with passing life is inevitable, yet somehow in our heart of hearts it is almost impossible to prepare for it. We cling closely to that which we know and love best…to those whom we know and love best. And so we should.
Someone recently remarked that even coming to this site was sad – so many changes in the patterns of the things we know of life and the ties we’ve made upon this plane. That tinge of sadness is quite rational. In truth, the reason we come here and enjoy this neighborhood so much is that it represents so well the way things were; the way we remember things being; yes, in those good old days.
With Uncle Gale’s passing I have been weighing change anew. And seeing his tribute to Grandpa Grover, the weight was broadened. It comes to me that the loss of these two men represents far more than ordinary shifting of patterns. Not because I love them so – though indeed I’ve always loved them so – but because these men along with other men and women of their generations, represent a very different breed of humanity. They and their womenfolk weren’t like you and I – try as we might, we cannot be like them. We may follow their good examples, but the scope of their lives is indeed irreproducible.
Those men were strong, fearless, honest and faithful. Those women were tough, brave, hardworking and loyal. They knew toil we can hardly imagine; faced dangers that would make us shudder, survived losses and forded streams they seldom mentioned in the retelling of their stories. And all with far less wealth or material gain than the poorest of us enjoy. Sometimes I think the times and hardships of the day shaped their worth, and I’m sure that overcoming adversity played a part. But along with facing the challenges of an austere life – they had mettle, valor born of true faith and conviction of their stand before their Creator. And in their fidelity, they also knew how to enjoy life fully, love deeply, keep learning, sing wholeheartedly and laugh often.
In the end I decided that when Gale and Grover Miller and others of their generations depart this world, the void is felt more crucially than in the passing of ordinary people. They were extraordinary in so many ways…and so they leave a very big hole when they go away. We’d be blind not to feel that true.
But on the other hand, as Aunt Luanne said about her brother, “Haven’t I been blessed to have him so long!” Indeed we have been blessed to know and see in the shifting patterns of life such remarkable men and women. They teach us so much of how to build the best of lives and speak, even in passing, of a better way.
I am so blessed to be able to follow their footprints through the shifting sands of time …into eternity.
SANDS OF TIME
Sands are sifting through the glass
Images of loved ones pass
Gently whispering soft good-byes
E’er they journey to the skies
Such is life and well we know
Tides and patterns come and go:
Blessed birth brings hope and joy
Age and loss our tears employ
We’re born to life that ever lives
Reaching through the time that gives
Wonder, joy, a little pain
We turn to dust, yet live AGAIN
Of all the marvels known to man
None will surpass the Master’s plan
Bestowing peace and hope and love
He measures twice – here and Above
We watch the shifting, changing sands
Rejoice in all the good His hands
Of mercy grant ... from day of birth
The same Hands lead beyond this earth!