My mother had two brothers. Uncle Paul was the fun one, but Lorry was the one who made me feel loved.
Paul rode a motorcycle and threw me in the air and always teased me about boys and stuff. I distinctly remember crying by the doors to the fellowship hall on the day of his wedding because I thought he wouldn’t be fun anymore. I was wrong. Once a fun uncle, always a fun uncle. 🙂
Lorry was taken from this earth long before anyone who knew him was ready to see him go. Maybe that’s part of the reason he still lives in this strange kind of perfection in my mind. But I think it’s mostly because he loved me.
I was thirteen when he died. I remember hearing hushed voices coming from the kitchen early in the morning in the Iowa City farmhouse and knowing something was wrong. He had lost his long battle to a strange and uncommon disease.
So much of the time I spent with his family is just a foggy vague recollection, but there are three memories that are still so real I can close my eyes and see and hear things as if he were standing right in the room with me.
- “Well, hello there Kimboly.” It didn’t matter how many times he found me at his house when he got home from work at Winnebago, he was always happy to see me. And he always said the same thing. And I can still “hear” his voice. The annunciation. The inflection. The smile. It’s all there. Those four words of greeting said, ‘You have a place in our home and you are loved.’
- I must have been around eleven when I broke Noah’s crib. My cousin Nathan and I were standing on the side rail. I was the oldest and should have known better. My aunt Marilyn was understandably upset with me. (I would have been too.) For the rest of the afternoon I was nervous about what Lorry would say when he got home. I don’t remember his words, but I remember his mercy. Whatever he said at that dinner table put my heart at ease. His reaction said, ‘You are forgiven and you are loved.’
- I thought he would never stop praying. I was in a sleeping bag on the floor beside my cousins’ bunk beds, and I just wanted to go to sleep. But Lorry kept praying. And praying. And praying. This was no “now I lay me down to sleep,” prayer. This was a conversation between a man and his Savior. He didn’t have to pray out loud with his family. He could have just as easily slid into his comfy bed and prayed silently. But I know he wanted his children and me to know how serious he was about his faith. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the earnestness of that prayer pointed me toward a growing commitment to Christ and reminded me that I am loved.
Lorry was gone long before I grew up, but his legacy lives on in his children, and I think a little bit of it found its way inside me. I have a mother and father who love me very much, but the love I felt from him was different and special.
The last gift of love he gave me is one he did not even know he gave. A Bible that is now tattered and has the wrong name etched on the cover. On a blank page in the back my aunt Marilyn wrote “I know Lorry would have wanted me to give you this Bible as a gift so as I give it to you, I’m sure he is smiling up in heaven. So it’s something from us but also something to remember your uncle by.”
And remember him I do. Mostly because he loved me.