This post is based on my childhood memories. I hope it doesn’t offend other relatives.
A Tale of True Amazing Grace
Maybe it was the images and memories of the Vietnam War
or it could have been the car wreck after he was discharged from the Army,
but my Uncle Charlie wasn’t quite “all there.” Even though he’d sit in the front yard
cussing an unseen enemy, I won’t call him crazy because I loved him
and he was my friend.
My mom assures me that before the war, he was very intelligent
and held a prestigious position in the army.
I should look up his military records but the solider wasn’t who I knew.
When I was a kid, bored during a visit at Maw-maw’s house, he was my playmate.
He and all my other bored cousins.
We thought that he was playing pretend and we’d sneak up behind him,
wait for just the right moment and tackle him.
Looking back, I see the miracle in that he didn’t mistake us for the enemy.
Instead he retaliated with hand to hand combat in the form of tickles
and rolls across the yard.
He always looked out for us, calling “watch for snakes” and “stay out of the road.”
Did he tell on us for setting the woods on fire?
He simply put out the fire, drove us to a small country store, and bought us ice cream.
I won’t mention the fire later that night after the wind revived the coals.
Like all children must, I grew up. Then I married and moved away.
When I finally returned to my roots, Uncle Charlie was old, sick, and dying.
As I Christian I began to wonder, if he was saved.
Was his mind lucid enough to understand the concept of salvation?
I began to pray.
I wanted assurance that my beloved playmate would make it to heaven.
God is good and he answered that prayer in a unique way.
I wasn’t there when Uncle Charlie took his final breath,
but my mother was and this is what she told me…
My mom had driven from Tennessee to be with her brother.
Uncle Charlie was weak, on oxygen, and freshly released from the ICU.
There was nothing more the doctors could do.
Death was a matter of time.
One morning, as his breath grew shallow;
he turned to my mother. With wonder in his eyes and said,
“Jesus wants to hold my hand. Why? Why does Jesus want to hold my hand?”
I don’t remember what mom told him, or who else she said was in the room,
but I do know he was too weak to lift his head.
Yet my uncle reached toward heaven and smiled.
His hand then floated to the mattress and he was gone.
God answered my prayer with Uncle Charlie’s final words.
I picture him now in heaven, sitting cross-legged by The River of Life.
Instead of curses for the enemy, praise for his savior rolls off his tongue.
One day, I plan to sneak up and tackle him.
I wonder…Is there ice cream in heaven?