Last weekend on Sunday September 05, 2010 my father's brother Charlie passed. As I sit here remembering my childhood there are not very many situations or events that my Uncle Charlie was not part of.
We as a family spent many hours together, camping, hunting, boating, skiing, swimming, breaking bread, and working. Yes working, my Uncle was a self employed fixer of all things and as all of us boys became teenagers and needed/ wanted money, Uncle Charlie always had a job for us to do that he would pay us for. I roofed, pulled weeds, swept, mopped, stacked wood, and did all kind of manual labor for him. He taught me about work ethic, and would on more than one occasion make me do the job over to his satisfaction, to my dismay I might add. But he did teach me about work and its rewards.
He also taught all of us about community, and volunteering, making life better for others who were not as fortunate as we were. You could always call on him to volunteer his time, money, and talent to anything that needed to be done in our small community. As we drive through our small community, you can see tangible evidence of things that he worked on, the Little League fields, the Community Center, the high school football field, and stands. If he could not do the actual labor he could be seen getting others to donate their time and money for community events. He at times appeared to be tireless, always willing to help out.
He and my Aunt were married for 63 years, a very long time. Theirs was not a perfect marriage, not many marriages that I know of are. But it was constant, steady and they loved each other deeply, an example for all of us who followed them into our own marriages. Uncle Charlie had dementia, which in my opinion the worst of all diseases, it robs you of your memory, of the connection to those you love, but those who loved him did not lose their connection. My Aunt went to the hospital every day for 8 months, making sure that he was taken care of, bringing him his meals from home, helping him to eat, loving him, caring for him, being the steady rock for him. His youngest son would also go to the hospital to see his dad, at times waking up with just the feeling that his dad needed him at that time and he would go, taking care of the man who took care of him. Again an example for all of us and our loved ones, to take care of each other, love each other, be there for each other, forgiving each other so that we can do this.
So this week as I have reflected on a life that touched mine in many ways always with love and the wanting of better for me and my family. I have realized just how lucky I was to have been a part of Charlie Chipley's family, how much he and his wife, my Aunt Sue mean to me and my family, and just how much I learned from him through out my life.
I will always love him, love Aunt Sue and their children and grandchildren, because we are all family, no matter the distance between us and there are many miles that separate all of us, we are all tied together by love.
So with this I say so long for now Uncle Charlie you are in a better place, and I will see you again one day. As you are up in heaven with my mom, your mom, your father and countless other family members, smile down on us left here, knowing that all of you who have gone on before us will be there to greet us as they greeted you; into the gates of Heaven. God Speed Uncle Charlie, may you now have the Peace that surpasses all understanding. I love you.
Love your Nephew Curtis