Sunset

Late this afternoon, I was in a car heading west. My destination was a funeral home in a small town in Oklahoma. The family was gathering for an event commonly called Visitation, a time of remembering and sharing about a departed loved one, a time for friends and associates to pay their respects. The man being honored tonight is my Uncle Rex. I’ll share more about this sweet and kind man tomorrow, after his memorial service. 

Sunset

I was in a reflective mood as we drove. Greg graciously chauffeured me, due to a threat of severe weather, which allowed me the freedom and opportunity to gaze out the car windows. Clouds were indeed gathering in the sky, as the sun sank toward the horizon. 

Sunset
I love sunsets. Although they are a daily phenomenon, no two are ever quite the same. I appreciate the beauty of sunrise as well. But let’s face it. I am not an early morning person. I don’t see the sun appear in the eastern sky nearly as often as I see it dive in the west. 

I am perfectly okay with who I am. 

And so sunsets stir the magic in me. They draw gratitude from my heart and my lips. They fire up the sky and my imagination. 

Sunset

The sky was so beautiful as we chased after the sun, that it created an ache within me. Although it is difficult to capture that splendor accurately, I felt compelled to try, snapping pics with my iPhone camera, capturing the day’s last gift. 

I thought about my uncle, for whom the sun has set for the final time here on earth. Sunset can be symbolic of the end of life, of the closing of the day and a chapter in the book of life. 

Sunset
However, what I love most about sunset, in addition to the sheer beauty of it, is this…

Sunset teaches me about trust. I trust that when the sun disappears, it’s not gone forever. I trust that even when darkness gathers, the light will appear again. I trust that there is a time for endings, and endings signal new beginnings. 

I trust that life is a series of sunrises and sunsets, and the sun may go down for the last time for a soul…but a new sun rises, in a new realm, and that soul lives on. How beautiful and mysterious are sunsets…and life. 

Sunset
John Ruskin wrote, “At sunset, nature is painting for us…day after day…pictures of infinite beauty.” 

I am grateful to behold her majestic art, displayed on grand canvases. I am undone by that infinite beauty.

Sunset

Double Birthday Celebration

It’s incredible to believe that we are back around to the July birthday celebration for my Uncle Rex and Aunt June. Much has happened in the past year to make today’s party even more precious. Rex and June are the last two surviving members of their original family. Gone are their parents and their four siblings. At ages 83 and 81, I love that they enjoy celebrating together and having the attention and well wishes of the family gathered around them. 


Joining in the festivities today were both of my sisters, Linda and Debbie, my cousin Michael who is Uncle Rex’s son, Aunt Mary…Rex’s wife…and my cousins Denny and Alan, the sons of Aunt June. Everyone contributed food and paper goods, drinks and desserts. Michael and Alan earned high praise for contributing made-from-scratch birthday goodies…making blueberry pies and wacky cake with chocolate buttercream icing, respectively. 


I enjoyed an afternoon of visiting with my older family members, and chatting with my sisters and cousins. Uncle Rex and Aunt June were so cute together as they blew out candles on their birthday cake. While they ate a hearty and savory lunch, they were excited to sample the cake, pie and ice cream. I caught Uncle Rex having a second helping of cake. 


Watching their antics, and listening to their humorous stories, I realized that this brother and sister have reached the age where their inner children are more apparent. I’m writing with heart-aching transparency as I share that Uncle Rex, Aunt Mary and Aunt June are all experiencing memory loss. That was very evident today as they repeated stories and forgot what they were talking about or wondered about something that had just been discussed. 

What was also evident was how in the moment they were, how full of laughter and love and joy, and how easily they dipped into sorrow occasionally as they remembered those who are now gone. My family is amazingly supportive and offered only love and patience and acceptance to these dear elders. No one stopped a story that had been told already, several times. To Rex and June and Mary they were fresh tales, everytime. No one corrected information or expected anything other than what we were experiencing…a family celebration, a rejoicing that these sweet people are still here with us. 

Being with my aunt and uncle reminded me that my father, their brother, is no longer with us. I don’t know how many more of these double birthday parties we will get to create, or how many more times we will gather together to laugh and talk and tell stories. As long as they enjoy the festivities, we will continue to meet, for their sakes and ours, and for the love of family. And…for the love of pie and cake!