I have been putting off writing this entry for a while. I started it last Sunday and never completed it and then everything turned upside down again on Tuesday.
Its been a long two weeks in my family. We’ve lost two amazing family members in the past two weeks. Needless to say, its been a tough couple of weeks while trying to continue some normalcy at work while coping with our losses. Both of these individuals were amazing Christian role models in my life and simply amazing, giving people. The world is certainly worse off without them.
Tuesday before last, September 30, my great-aunt Josie passed away. She had been diagnosed with cancer and was in hospice care for several weeks prior. She was my grandma Hancock’s best friend – and they did a lot together. The pastor even called them the ‘dynamic duo’ and they certainly were. In the years since their husbands passed, the two of them were together a lot and I know my grandma will be missing her. Josie was a great person who never had a bad word to say about anyone – nor would she. She was a fun character too, and that’s what I’ll remember most. There was never a time that I saw her that she wasn’t smiling and didn’t have some joke going, no matter where she was. She was a joy to be around. And she will be missed by all of us. But we know she is in a better place and that she is not in pain anymore, and that’s comforting.
I definitely remember Aunt Josie singing when we’d visit Cross Roads Church, my mom’s family church. She would tell us – “the Lord said make a joyful noise, he didn’t say it had to sound good.” That was Josie. Quick witted and funny, charming and loving. She cared for her community and all its members. She felt her gift was cooking and caring for those in need, and she’d always be there to help prepare some comfort food.
This past Tuesday evening (October 7), my cousin Charles Stafford passed away. He too had cancer and had been diagnosed about five years ago. Through all of the treatments, Charles never stopped working or attending church. He stayed strong through it all. As many of you know, Jen and I are lucky enough to count his son Brett and Brett’s wife Trina as our best friends. Peyton gets to count them as God-parents. And this entire family is very special to us. We love all of them so much.
Charles is someone that I had the upmost respect for. He was the epitamy of what a Christian should be. He was an humble, generous man. He was simple and genuine – authentic. You’d never catch him putting on heirs. He was faithful and faith-full. From the time I can remember, Charles was at church every time the church doors were open. From the time Jen and I married, he was one person that, without fail, always made a v-line directly for us every time he saw us just to say hello and ask how we were doing. And it wasn’t just us – he was that way with everyone he knew. During the funeral, everyone was able to recall memories of him and most had a story of how Charles, regardless of how sick he was, would come and ask them how they or their family was doing. Til the end, he was caring for those around him. He was completely self-less and always looking out for those around him. He also trusted ultimately in the Lord for everything. His attitude was always that he had enough and that anything offered should be given to those who ‘needed’ it. He raised six amazing children with this wife, Christine.
Both of these folks leave such huge voids in their community. Both lived simple lives, but their impact was so great, so large. They touched so many over their years by just following Christ and letting that love pour out on all those around them. Its with an extremely heavy heart that I have to say goodbye to them, but I’ll treasure the memories of them for the rest of my days.