When I was growing up, my summers consisted of road trips across the country from North Carolina to Colorado. Through the Carolinas you could see rolling hills covered in evergreens and blue-purple mountains frosted in a thin layer of fog. The road west spiraled around steel arches in St. Louis and over paddleboats in the Mississippi river. The river ran wide and crossing it opened a whole new prairie landscape. Gone were the trees. Gone were the hills. Now we were driving through endless flat fields of grass and grain and corn. We were in the land of the cowboys and the setting of many western films that I saw as a kid. Before too long, we were in Colorado and pulling into my grandma’s yard.
Grandma’s house was the kind of house that always had room for everyone. Though it was just a three bedroom double-wide, beds sprung up from the floor and in the travel camper when family arrived. Some of the best memories of my childhood revolve around summers in that house with all my Kunau cousins gathered from Colorado and Texas.
The eldest cousin was also the only boy cousin, and we all looked up to him. We would run around the yard getting into grandpa’s garage full of junk, exploring the yard for Indian paint brushes, catching crickets, and digging up carrots in the garden. One year, there was a three wheeler to ride, and we all took turns letting Christopher drive us around the yard. It was excellent country-style fun.
My Aunt Glenda was the kind of woman who never left her room without her makeup on and her hair fixed. She was a true Southern lady. She was soft spoken in person, but she had a lot to say on paper. When we were apart, she wrote the most beautiful letters and cards to us. In these letters, she often encouraged me in my writing.
In 2007, she wrote, “make time in life for what gives you pleasure…writing is part of who God called you to be. Keep writing!”
This letter meant a lot to me. It inspired me as an artist, and I used it in one of my paintings.
I did not think it would be my last letter from her.
My Uncle Dennis was my mom’s eldest brother. He went off to Bible College where he met and married Glenda. The two of them spent many years in ministry together in Colorado, Carolina, and Texas. Most of this happened before my time. I remember Uncle Dennis more for his second career in security at the county jail.
My Uncle Dennis was a jokester. He loved the Three Stooges and often made similar facial expressions. He teased and joked more often than he was serious. When he was serious, there was profound depth to his wisdom and insight. He was also a gifted musician and played the steel guitar.
I remember Dennis and Glenda as two halves of the same whole. They worked well together and never seemed to have disagreements. Perhaps that is why we had to say goodbye to them together.
Saturday, October 6, 2018, Aunt Glenda went on to be with the Lord. She was only 69. Yesterday, October 13, 2018, Uncle Dennis joined her. He was only 66.
Though both of them had health troubles, it is hard to imagine losing either of them at such a young age. My cousins, Christopher and Charity, are shocked by the loss.
How can anyone find meaning in loss especially when it is the loss of both of your parents? What hope, what reason, could God have in taking them away?
Isaiah 57: 1-2
The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
The legacy of righteousness is that there is no sadness left for us in dying. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, the God who made us. For those that follow Christ, death is only the beginning to eternal life in Heaven. Today, my aunt and uncle are having church in Heaven. They have joined the angels in singing praises to God. They are shouting hallelujah to the twang of a steel guitar.
Though they will be missed here on Earth, there will be a day when we will be reunited with them. This is the hope we have in Christ.
May we all live a life worthy of the righteous legacy, and may we be happily satisfied at the end of this journey.