I once met a woman who worked as a social worker. She was also a strong believer in Jesus. She told me something she learned while in seminary. She said that Satan tries to break up families because family is the place where we get so much of what we need as human beings.
Over the years I have written several times about my Aunt Nan and my Uncle Jerry. It’s been three years since I had to say so long to Aunt Nan. Yesterday I was working on curriculum at my desk when my cousin Tina called to tell me that Uncle Jerry has joined her. He had been declining for a few years and had been in hospice since Saturday. The call wasn’t a surprise, but I am still lonely for him. (This is not my Uncle Billy who is in the hospital after contracting COVID over a month ago. He is still in the hospital.)
When Tina called, I was on Zoom with my dear friend Dena who is also our virtual proofreader and editor. When I told her about Uncle Jerry, I explained, “He always treated me like I was worth a million dollars.” Several hours later I thought about what a precious gift that was. We all need those we love most to treat us like we are worth a million dollars. It’s like what that woman who was a social worker told me: family is the place where we get so much of what we need as human beings.
When I was a girl, our family drove the three hours between Ashland City and Crossville often to visit Aunt Nan, Uncle Jerry, and our cousins Tina and Chris. When we were there, they were graciously hospitable. Here we are at their home one Christmas after we were all grown up with children of our own.
My Uncle Jerry adored my Aunt Nan. For 63 years, he adored her. And when she passed away, they were home alone together. When he passed away yesterday, he was at the home of their daughter Tina where he had been living since about a year after Nan passed away.
My mother adored her sister, too. Just two years apart, they were close their whole lives.
My mother and her siblings all stayed close. I have seen many pictures of the four of them through the years. Their spouses joined them in this one c. 1970.
When I was a child, I never knew what fascinating thing Jerry would be into the next time Daddy took us the 130 miles to visit them. He worked for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at a smalltown airport in Crossville, Tennessee, and was active in the Civil Air Patrol. Sometimes we toured the airport.
Other times he would talk to me about his latest hobby. Once he turned an old washing machine into a sort of carnival game. When he attached a piece of paper to the place where the center agitator was, you could drop blobs of paint onto the paper while the paper spun, creating “modern art.” For a while he took up stained glass. Once he bought a television kit and became the only person I knew with a television set built into a wall.
One time when we visited, he was talking about sailing around the world. He never did that, but one day about 7 or 8 years ago, my cousin Tina walked out of her office to get a breath of fresh air. There was her dad getting out of his new red convertible sports car. He said Aunt Nan didn’t even know about it yet. Tina told him that she thought it was better than the motorcycle he had been talking about. Uncle Jerry was about 83 at the time.
For decades, my Uncle Jerry loved clowns. He watched them, he painted them, and eventually he became one — for local events. In this photo, he is performing at a fundraiser.
And here we three are after the show.
So long, Uncle Jerry. Thank you for making me feel worth a million dollars. Now, it’s up to us, Mamas, to see who all we can make to feel that way, too. Jesus assured us that we are worth so much more than that. He said we were worth His very life.
But God demonstrates
His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.