Thursday, October 28, 2010

Role Models

My Uncle Ed was a big man.

He wasn't just big in size or in the volume and resonance of his voice. It wasn't just his chainsaws or his truck that were big. He was huge. And I'm pretty sure it's because he was bursting, exploding with love, brimmed with joy, and wrapped in courage. When he died almost a year ago after a long battle with cancer, I had no idea what to do. You see, Uncle Ed had always been there and you always knew he was there. Dressed in old overalls, he was in Mawmaw's kitchen, slicing the mold off of the old cheese and eating it (the cheese, not the mold) and inhaling whatever cookies were in the jar (leaving very few behind). He was stomping through the doorway on Christmas in pajama pants and a Santa hat. He was at the beach on his birthday and driving his big white truck around Odell and Kannapolis most other days. He was the kind of guy that, when he spoke, you wanted to listen. He was always reading, always praying in his booming voice, and always giving all that he had and all of the joy that he had. His love was wide and long and he spent it, not just on his wife and his daughter, but on everyone he met.

Uncle Ed was huge.

Now, Uncle Ed was never afraid to tell you what he thought or to do something that other people might think was a little crazy. I loved him for that. I love him still. It was hard for me, and for a lot of people, to watch his body wither away last year, but I can say proudly that he never lost his spirit and that he never stopped trusting God. Like Ed, the void he left behind is huge, but the way he lived his life and the way he let it end inspire us, not to fill this void because that is impossible, but to grow ourselves, to love everyone just like he did, and not to let a little fear keep us from trusting God.

It was providence, I think, that allowed Ed's funeral to be the place I was invited to the Montreat College Conference last year. Not only is the conference where I learned about the Young Adult Volunteer program, but it is where I heard Dr. Cynthia Rigby speak about the boxes she had built in her life and how she had escaped them. It made me think of Uncle Ed. I'm not sure that he ever lived in box, at least not when I knew him. I cited this message from Dr. Rigby in my application to volunteer this year because it reminded me so much of my uncle. It reminded me that I knew what a life lived unencumbered by fear looked like because I had seen it. It reminded me that the only thing holding me back was me. I could do something that seemed maybe a little bit crazy. I could put my life in God's hands and ask Him to take care of me.

Because of this, because of my Uncle Ed, I have named my blog Keepin' On. Many will be aware that after my accident, my Uncle Steve (also, a pretty great guy) kept a blog on Caring Bridge that let my friends and neighbors keep up with progress of my healing. Many, many people would come to this blog and sign the guest book with words of encouragement, memories, and prayers. I am immensely thankful for each signature and I want everyone to know that it is still a place I go for comfort when I'm feeling down. After all, there are few pick-me-ups that near equal 1,340 messages telling you how great you are and how much you are loved. One of the most faithful signers was my Uncle Ed who would end most every post with “and keep on keeping on,” which, I think, is very solid advice.

So this week, keep on. Maybe, do something a little crazy...and tell God about it.


Pray for Uncle Ed, my Aunt Jan, my cousin Marimarie and my entire family. We all miss Ed and it's not easy to live life without him. Pray for a homeless man's feet, (we'll call him Jack) that they will be healed. Pray that we can all be good Christian role models. Pray for my housemates and I as we put on a Fall Festival for the community, that we meet new people and form lasting relationships.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. --Romans 13:8-10



  2. I work with your Aunt Henrietta and I just wanted you to know what an inspiration you are to others. I have a sister-in-law who found out she had a brain aneurism last year and had surgery in June of this year. During the operation, she had a stroke and is now in a wheel chair, limited use on her left side, but going to therapy 3 days a week. I would love to start something like this for her but not sure how. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Dang, first Alayna's blog, now yours! A knock out punch. I was already welling up with tears, now they are flowing. So glad you're here. - Matthew

  4. This is quite a tribute to your Uncle Ed! It also
    reveals quite a talent for writing that I never knew you had. I'm so proud of you Robert. Whenever I feel down I think of you and how much you have overcome and my troubles seem so insignificant. I love you. Grammaw