I have no need or desire to make a 2014 New Year's Resolution.
Spending time with my family recently made me reflect quite a bit on the loved ones I've lost in the past few years. It seems incredible, but in the past six years, I lost my mother, two brothers, a niece, and my stepfather. My grandmother died in 2004 and an earlier blow to my heart happened in 2001, when I lost my twin brother. They are all pictured in the image along with an extra photo of my grandfather, Franklin O’Neal, who died many years earlier, in 1983.
I gotta admit: The realization of knowing that my three brothers are gone is at times hard to bear. My brothers were a team and truly loved each other. Growing up, we were a very close-knit family. My sister, DeVerna and I have spoken of this often, and yet, can comfort each other in a way that not many can. (Many are not totally able to empathize with our situation). We are not senior citizens by any stretch, having just reached middle age. We never would have imagined being without all of our brothers at this time in our lives. Fortunately, we've gained strength and comfort from other sources, as well.
Now, I know that there are a few families in similar situations. I hope that you haven’t lost as many loved ones as I have (especially in so short a time). While we all have our own individual beliefs and ways of memorializing the memories of our loved ones, I’ve personally drawn comfort from the hope I find in reading the Holy Scriptures. Knowing that my loved ones are asleep, awaiting a resurrection, but alive in Almighty God’s memory gives me peace. Knowing that one day we’ll be reunited brings me joy.*
My mother loved collecting recipes, drawing and knitting. She also was a very good storyteller, just like her own mother. My older brother, Noah, loved to fish and learning our family history was something very important to him. Unfortunately, he died a year ago on the 27th of this month and could not finish his research. My younger brother, Roy, was an electronics and computer whiz; we all drove him a little crazy trying to pick his brain. The unexpected demise of my niece from a brain aneurysm shook the entire family. While we were not as close, it still hurt. She loved her young children and was a good mom. My stepfather was an artist and he had lots of hobbies such as woodworking, stained glass, gem collecting and more.
My grandmother was one of the best storytellers I’ve ever known. She also was an expert crocheter, who was gifted with a natural ability to combine colors into awesome works of art. While my twin brother had his share of trouble throughout his life, I believe that he should’ve become a writer because his ‘words on a page’ reached the heart. He also was an expert barber and chef with an international culinary degree. To this day, I wish he’d given me his secret to his super creamy and delicious ‘Three-cheese Macaroni and Cheese’. Anyone who ever tasted it has the same wish!
Well, my prayers and thoughts are with all who have memories of love, laughter and even tears. I hope that you will find comfort and peace. Let’s all be happy to have known our loved ones, if only for just a little while. I intend to continue to share my joy with others, hoping that they will cause my own inner happiness to increase.
I hope that you can do the same.
Ciao for Now,