"In The End"
Uncle Wilson died on April 27, 2003. He died at the relatively young age of 65 of a
massive heart attack. Growing up, I remember him always being the family clown.
Whenever a friend was going to meet uncle Wilson for the first time, I would always
prepare them for the antics that they would most definitely witness. After my parents split
up, I gradually lost touch with my father's side of the family, including my uncle. As the
years went by I would only see Uncle Wilson when the family got together for Christmas.
He was always the same. Joking, cutting up, and making everyone around him laugh.
I have not had much experience with death, and I was not sure of what to expect at the
funeral. As I drove the hour-long drive to the church, I thought about him. I thought
about his antics, his humor, and the funny things he did. I also thought about how sad it
was that I really did not know him. Upon arriving, the first thing that struck me was how
many people were there. The church parking lot was completely full, and I had to park
along the side of the street. A lot of other people were doing the same. Hundreds of
people were there to honor my Uncle; most I had never met before. After standing in line
for almost an hour, we were finally able to view the body, and my wife and I took a seat
towards the back of the church. What followed next continues to have a profound affect
on my life.
The first to speak was my uncle's only son, and youngest child. I remembered him as
being a shy, quiet kid growing up, almost the polar opposite of his father. He delivered
such a heart wrenching speech that by the time he had finished there was not a dry eye in
the place. The love, affection, and great esteem this man held for his father was obvious
to all, and we felt his anguish every time he stopped to collect himself. Truly, my Uncle
Wilson had been the kind of father that every man should strive to be.
Next to speak was his oldest daughter. She related the same type of stories. She obviously
had a special relationship with her father, and they were extremely close. She talked
about his faith in God, and how he often displayed that faith. She described how even as
a grown woman, married, and with a family of her own, she still called him every
morning. Finally she talked about how she would sing for him, how much they both
enjoyed that, and what his favorite song was. I am sorry that I do not remember the title
of that song, but I do remember the angelic way she sang as she dedicated it to him that
Last to speak was his son – in –law. He had recently become a minister, largely due to
Uncle Wilson's influence. He too, had a close relationship with my Uncle, and his life
had been changed as a result of knowing him. The stories he told of my Uncle picking up
hitchhikers, and helping others was a side to my uncle that I never knew existed. He had
given jobs to ex-convicts when they could not find any other work. His love and respect
for my uncle was obvious. He summarized his eulogy with the message that my uncle
was in heaven, and that my Uncle Wilson would want the salvation that Jesus Christ
offers to be accepted by each and every person there.
Driving home that evening, I reflected on what I had witnessed that night. I determined
that if I could have the kind of influence on others that my uncle had had, I would have
lived a successful life. I was changed that night. I made it my goal to have the kind of
character, build the kind of relationships, and have the influence on others that my Uncle
Wilson had. I decided that I would "end well".
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