As years go, 2020 was one of the worst. We had to face so much loss, some was from Covid and some was not from Covid. I don’t think I have ever attended so many funerals as I did in 2020. The funerals were all beautiful, but it’s the pictures of sadness the never fade from my mind. And it’s not just the funerals from 2020 that were filled with sad faces, but every funeral I’ve ever been to.
I suppose it is because of the compassion I feel for the family of the one who has left us. Their family is feeling such pain, that their faces have completely changed. Grief does that to a person. It’s like death takes away a layer of innocence…the unfounded belief that our loved one will always be here with us. Those broken hearted faces that cannot hold back the tears. The look of disbelief that tells me that they still can’t wrap their mind around the fact that their loved one is gone. And these are not people without the hope of Heaven, but their loved one is no longer here with them, and that is so hard to bear. We don’t grieve for the one who has gone to Heaven, the grieving is for us…the ones left behind to pick up the pieces of our lives.
My mind’s memory files retain pictures of events, and that can be good or it can be bad. I remember the faces of people who were very happy, and those pictures bring me much joy, but the sad faces, are so hard to get off my mind. Maybe it’s because I have such a hard time wrapping my own mind around the fact that the person is no longer here. When a loved one or friend leaves us for Heaven, we are always unprepared. There is no way to prepare for death, even when the doctors have said it is coming. We always hope against hope that the doctors are wrong, and sometimes they are, but when they are right, we are faced with the finality of it. While the picture of someone’s extreme sadness never fades from my memory files, there is another picture that stays with me. It is the look behind the sad face. The look of a parent who knows that they have other children who need them, so with determination, their face shows that they will continue to make a life for their family. It is look of an adult child who is determined to live the kind of life that will make their departed parent proud. It is the look of a spouse who is determined to carry on as the now widowed parent to the family. Their hearts are broken right now, but with prayer, the love of family, and determination, they will carry on, because they are all overcomers. I can’t say that every grieving face has that same determination, but the ones I know do. Maybe it comes from knowing their loved one is in Heaven…it probably does. It is the hope of the future for them and their families.
I finally finished my Christmas shopping!! I’m very excited about it. I suppose that would sound funny to most people, especially when you consider that today is December 28th. In case you are wondering, no I’m not finished with next year’s Christmas shopping. That would be a miracle, indeed. Actually, I was doing ok with my shopping, I had everything purchased and shipped to my daughter, Amy’s family in Washington state, with the exception of stocking stuffers. Then, it happened. Covid had made its way through our family, my sisters (except Alena Stevens and her family), brothers-in-law, and a number of cousins. Bob and I had it over Thanksgiving, which was also cancelled this year…at least for us. I thought maybe we would make it through Christmas Covid-free, but then my daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin caught it, and their quarantine would take us through Christmas. This just wasn’t our year for holidays.
That said, the urgency to finish my Christmas shopping left me, because we decided to postpone our celebration until we could all be together for it. Celebrating, when part of us we’re stuck at home or in the hospital was just not the same, and it would be especially sad for Corrie and Kevin. It doesn’t feel like a celebration when part of the family is not there. When the day comes, it will be worth the wait. It will be a real celebration, because we will all be well. So we wait, because Corrie and Kevin being with us is more important than what day we celebrate this year.
I suppose that means I could still have plenty of time for shopping, but who knows. The thing about Covid is that some people take a while to get over it and others are over it in two weeks. The day when we could finally have Christmas could creep up on me and then my shopping wouldn’t be done. Not good!! So, I decided to get it finished. And another good thing is that I actually have all the gifts wrapped Wow!! Now, whenever Christmas comes this year, I’ll be ready.
Yesterday, we received the news that our sweet Uncle Bill Spencer had passed away from Covid at the Middle River Health and Rehabilitation Center in South Range, Wisconsin. He was a little under one month from his 99th birthday. Uncle Bill had lived at the Middle River Center for about ten years now, and we have had the opportunity to visit him there twice. I wish it had been more, but we live a long way away from them, so it wasn’t to be. The center was a nice place, and the people there loved Uncle Bill. We could see that the people there had a heart for their residents, and that gave us peace of mind. Uncle Bill tested positive for Covid on December 14th, and was doing ok until the morning of December 25th. By that afternoon, he had gone home to Heaven.
Uncle Bill was the last of my dad’s generation in their parents’ line, and lived the longest of them all. He was the second child of my grandparents, Allen and Anna (Schumacher) Spencer, born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin on January 21, 1922, when his older sister, Laura (Spencer) Fredrick was 10 years old, born August 3, 1912. We don’t know why there was such a distance between the two older children, because the younger three were pretty close together. My dad, Allen Spencer followed on April 27, 1924, and Aunt Ruth (Spencer) Wolfe on November 9, 1925. As they grew, the brothers, William and Allen were good friends as well as siblings. The fact that both were boys gave them many interests in common.
I recall some of their stories told when Uncle Bill came out for a visit in 2006. One of my favorites was about Independence Day celebrations. Growing up on a farm in the Holyoke area of Minnesota, they boys worked to plow, and remove rocks and tree stumps from the fields. This made them experts with dynamite, a fact that we hadn’t heard before. That in itself is very interesting, but they were also kids, and…well mischievous to say the least. Their July 4th tradition was to set off a dynamite blast…at daybreak. When I asked if people got mad at them, they said that they were out in the country, so who cared. Indeed!! One time though, they decided to try something new. Their mom had gone into town, leaving the boys at home. Their curious minds kicked in. They decided to find out what would happen if they set off a stick of dynamite on the top of the gate post. Yikes!! Well, they found out what would happen. When the dynamite exploded, the gate post sunk several inches into the dirt. The gate would no longer close, of course, and he boys immediately set about fixing it before their mom came back from town. They had no desire to find out what she thought of their prank.
While it makes me so sad that my uncle is gone now, I can feel his excitement as he entered Heaven to find his parents and siblings waiting for him. And what a wonderful thought…he was home for Christmas this year. I would imagine the celebration was wonderful. The boys were back together after so many years. I can picture them…just like kids again, filled with excitement, but I can also imagine one other thing. I can hear God saying, “The boys are back together…hide the dynamite!!” God knows his children well, and it simply wouldn’t do for those mischievous Spencer brothers to set off a stick of dynamite, right there on the gate post of the Pearly Gates, and sink one side several inches into the ground!! Nevertheless, I can see their minds clicking, sharp as ever now, thinking…”Hey, lets give that a try!!” Dynamite or not, there is a party going on in Heaven today. Grandma and Grandpa Spencer, and their kids are all together in Heaven again, and that’s worth celebrating. Uncle Bill we all love you very much and we will miss you always. You are in our future now, and we can’t wait to see you again.