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Follower of Jesus Christ. Lover of people. Lover of animals. High Point University graduate. Appalachian State graduate. High school English teacher. AXΩ.

Remembering My Uncle

Last week at this time, we were preparing for the memorial service of my uncle, who had been battling cancer since August. I was so nervous to share at the service, but I knew I would regret it forever if I didn't. I'm posting what I shared so that y'all can get a little peek at how Kenneth affected me and just to share about what a great guy he was. Being the humble man he was, he would've downplayed his strengths, but his life definitely made an impact that I'll never forget.
 
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“From the beginning of creation
I think our Maker had a plan
For us to leave these shores
And sail beyond the sand
And let the good light guide us
To the waves and the wind
To the beaches in a world
Where we've have never been
And we'll climb upon the mountain, y'all
We'll let our voices ring
And those who've never tried it
They'll be the first to sing”

-George Strait


I write about a lot of things, but this is something I never imagined I’d have to write. Not right now anyway.

Over the past 8 months, I watched a typically very strong man gradually lose his physical strength until finally it was all gone. This is something you can’t really prepare yourself for.

Kenneth walked from Earth into eternity on Friday morning – Good Friday, to be exact. He left behind so many people who care about him deeply and have such fond memories of him and have been praying for him for months.

On Thursday night, when I went to visit him, some song lyrics kept going through my head. The first line of the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas:

“I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone.”

Thursday night will remain in my mind because I literally did close my eyes to pray for Kenneth, and I knew the moment was fleeting. We all knew that our time with Kenneth was running out and it became painfully clear that, like the Bible says, life is a vapor, and Kenneth’s time on Earth was being cut short by our standards, but God’s plan for him was being fulfilled just the way He ordained it. My mother made sure he heard the 23rd Psalm and was not afraid of what was happening.

I don’t agree with the lyrics of the “Dust in the Wind” song as a whole. We are far more than dust in the wind, and the Earth and sky are not the only things that last. My uncle’s life proves that. No, his life on Earth didn’t last as long as we wanted it to. But he has left a lasting impact on many people, and what I share today is just the tip of the iceberg.

I think I can speak for us all when I say that my uncle Kenneth was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. Some people just have the ability to make anything that comes out of their mouth sound hilarious, and he was definitely one of them. He kept the whole family laughing and in good spirits. They say laughter is the best medicine, and there was plenty of that with him. I personally very much enjoy being around people that make me laugh, and that was one of the things I loved most about Kenneth.

Another aspect of Kenneth that I’ve always loved was his generosity. He’d give you the shirt off of his back – he was always making sure that everyone had what they needed. I remember right before I started graduate school at Appalachian, he gave me a huge wad of five and ten-dollar bills and told me to keep it in case I needed gas money. He enjoyed paying for everyone’s food when we would all go eat and there was no arguing with him about it. He just wanted to be around us – that’s what mattered to him.

One of the biggest things I admired about Kenneth was his love for animals. There’s something to be said about someone that values God’s furry creations. They totally depend on us to take care of their needs. Kenneth rescued dogs and cats and went to great lengths to make sure that they were happy and given the best life possible. We all shared a love of Beagles, and the way he cared for his sweet critters has been a wonderful example for me in caring for my own pets. God gave man dominion over animals for us to treat them exactly the way Kenneth treated his.

Kenneth was with my mother when she and Ashley discovered that our dog Honeygirl had passed away back in January. It broke his heart. I can just picture him up in Heaven, running around with little Honeygirl, both of them cancer–free and carefree, basking in the eternal sunshine that they’ve gained in place of life on Earth.

When I graduated from High Point University two years ago, Kenneth made a point to be there. It meant so much to me that he came to share the special day with us. Since my brother and I have been living in Boone, Kenneth would always want us to call him when we drove back so he would know we made it back to Boone safely.

We all wish we could have many more years with Kenneth here on this Earth. He was such a fun and sweet guy. And honestly, I think I’d be struggling with this a lot more if I didn’t keep reminding myself of what Paul said in Philippians – “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul wanted desperately to just be with Jesus, but Jesus would take him when He was ready for him, just as Jesus took Kenneth when he was satisfied in the fact that Kenneth’s time for Earthly living was done. To leave this Earth is to gain a Heavenly home with the One who created you. We think this world has a lot to offer us, but the splendor of Heaven is so wonderful that there’s nothing on this Earth that could even remotely compare. If we could hear from Kenneth now, he would tell us things about Heaven that would completely blow our minds. He would be able to attest to the fact that “to die is gain.”

Kenneth was raised by a wonderful Christian mother. Granny made sure that her kids got to church on Sundays and Wednesdays even when they didn’t have a car and it meant that they had to walk. Her devotion as a woman of God gave him the solid start that he needed in life. There’s no doubt that the love he poured out on others was in part a reflection on the love he was given from the start of his life. Granny has to be the absolute strongest person I know. She gave birth to two little boys and, like Hannah in the Bible, has had to give them both back to the Lord. But her faith never wanes – she trusts God and His plan even though she cannot understand it. She counts her many blessings and cherishes the memories she has.

My mother constantly sought after the knowledge that Kenneth was truly saved by Jesus. This past December, Kenneth came to the Christmas Eve service at Oak View with us. My mother saved the candle he used when we sang “Go Light Your World” in hopes that Kenneth would allow Jesus to re-light his life one day soon. Two months ago to this day, our hope came true. Kenneth re-dedicated his life to Jesus sitting in the kitchen with our mother. Because of that, I quote Romans 5:2 – “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” That hope for us is seeing Kenneth again one day. Because of the holiday we celebrated yesterday, death has no sting and we will be reunited.

I’ll really miss being able to call Kenneth up and ask if he wants to meet up at Ham’s or Buffalo Wild Wings with me and my friends.

I’ll really miss laughing at his jokes.

I’ll miss asking him about his dogs and hearing how they’re doing.

I’ll miss his dry sense of humor and the way he kinda snorted when he laughed.

I’ll miss getting hugs from him and him telling us how much he loves us.

I’ll miss calling him throughout the week to see how he’s doing, and the hope that he would get better and beat the cancer.

But although it looks like the cancer won, it did not. There’s victory in Jesus and Kenneth has won the ultimate fight.

 

“It is finished, the battle is over

It is finished, there will be no war

It is finished, the end of the conflict is finished

And Jesus is Lord”

……………………………………………………..

“Go rest high on that mountain
Son your work on Earth is done
Go to Heaven shouting
Love for the Father and the Son.”

 

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
 
With hope in Him, it's not goodbye - it's "See ya later."

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