It seems like it has been weeks since I have slept in my own bed. In reality, I have slept there once in the last 10 days. Sunday we came to be with the family to attend my uncle's funeral yesterday. It was an amazing day.
In life, I learned hundreds of lessons from my uncle, Joel. Even after his death, I continued to learn from this great man.
Joel was the eldest child of my father's family. He took over the position as "DAD" when my father's own dad left the family. Joel was a father to my dad his whole life. He taught him, tutored him, and acted as his example throughout his life. The tributes made to Joel yesterday reminded me that though I knew a wonderful man, I knew very little about this man.
After his death, his family retrieved the binder Joel had left behind, complete with instructions for after his passing. One of the most impressive things he did was to leave behind a sympathy card for his family members. He made sure that the first one they received was from him! :) He also said, "If you are reading this, I must be dead. Get over it. I am fine, it is much better here." His humor was contagious and all of those present caught it during the memorial service.
My favorite Joel item of the day was his casket. He left specific instructions that he did not want a big, expensive casket. He wanted a pine box. Not a pine casket, a pine box, and that is exactly what he got: a beautiful pine box. Upon first glance, it looked a little rudimentary, but in reality, it was amazing, in so many ways. Covered with a floral bouquet, the remainder of the "box" was used to write personal messages in permanent marker to uncle Joel. We all had the chance to leave him our final thoughts, memories and love, in a personal way that was meant just for him. In the end, the pine box was the perfect casket for this man who knew the real meaning of life, and death.
The family visited during the afternoon and we all enjoyed the reunion. Joel's dear wife still suffers from cancer, so we promised we would all continue the prayers, on her behalf, and we will.
It was a beautiful day of honoring, remembering, visiting and loving each other. The reminders of the importance of family were lessons I will remember forever!