Wednesday, February 1, 2017

You Were Family

Strange how the death of someone, not in our immediate family, can affect us.

Charlie wasn't in my family - not really - but in a sense, he was. He was married to a distant cousin and he was the youngest brother of an uncle. I know that seems strange. If he was my uncle's brother....why wasn't he related? Uncle James was married to Aunt dad's sister. Charlie was a brother to Uncle James.

They were both Methodist ministers and were both the sons of a Methodist minister. 

Our Walker family was close. Aunt Alice and Uncle James were like a second set of parents to me. Their 3 kids were like brothers and sisters to me. So, Uncle James and Charlie's parents were always called "Grandpa and Granny Nick," by me. And Uncle James brothers and sisters included me, as if I was family.

Of the seven children in their family (Grandpa and Granny Nick) five had Alzheimer's! Today, Charlie, the youngest son "finished his journey" here on earth. 

I have to explain that a cousin, by marriage on another side of the house, uses this term for someone dying....and I think it's beautiful. So, I've also begun to use the term "finished his journey" to explain when someone dies. Thank you Dora Hawkins Blakeney!!

Charlie was the last person with whom my husband, Bob, played golf before Bob was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. I hope there are golf clubs, in heaven, and they get to play another round!

Alzheimer's confuses me. We've always heard that keeping the mind active will help to prevent Alzheimer's Disease. However, some of the people who have been affected by this debilitating disease are those who have had the most active minds. Charlie was one of those people. He was a District Superintendent, in the Methodist Church. He had served at many churches and knew his Bible from front to back. Why, then, would he be affected? 

He and Dimple, who was a distant cousin, on my Walker side of the family had been married almost 60 years. They were a beautiful couple and they had a beautiful family. 

I lost a husband, so I can imagine exactly how Dimple feels, tonight. You've suddenly become conflicted. You're so thankful that your loved one is no longer suffering.....but now, you suffer because that part of you is gone. 

Alzheimer's has often been called "the long goodbye".....because suddenly that loved one looks at us with eyes of wonder. Who are you? Who am I?

Charlie (called Nick, by many) will be missed by so many people. People within his family. People to whom he ministered. People in his churches. People.

I grieve for those of us who will miss him....but most of all....I grieve for Dimple. I know how it's going to be. Her family will be there for her.....but she'll still feel alone. Because a part of her is now missing.

RIP, made a difference in so many lives. You weren't family.....but you were!!