Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Uncle Willie

This blog is written in sadness. Growing up in Greeley, Uncle Willie or Bill was around when his niece and I hung around together. What I remember is how he loved to tease us. His favorite story was when we would go on a picnic that everyone else had small lunch bags and my friend and I had our lunches in grocery bags!

One time he and his brother had to rescue us from a flood near Pierce. This story is beginning to fade but this is what I remember. My girl friend had only been married about six months and she and I plus two other friends decided to drive around the Pierce/Ault area. We told Uncle Willie that we would be back soon and drove off.  On our drive there was a cloud burst and the rain came down in torrents. We got stuck in a muddy area and three of us tried pushing the car out of the mud. We did not let my pregnant girlfriend get out to help because we had been told that a pregnant woman should not get wet!  We could not budge the car. A man came by and tried to help us but he could not move the stuck car. We told him where Uncle Willie lived and asked the man to go get us some help.

The water around the car began to rise and we began to get worried. What a relief when we saw a pickup drive up with Uncle Willie and his brother, my friend's husband. They helped us into the bed of the truck and told us that the whole area was flooding. We got back to the house and I remember I had to call my parents to let them know I could not get out of the area because of the flood and I would be spending the night. This did not make my parents happy but there was nothing they could do. My friend and I called the two brothers, "Our Heros!"

Last week I attended my friend's husband's funeral. They had been married for sixty-three years. Uncle Willie was at the funeral and it amazed me that he remembered me. Today I heard that Uncle Willie had passed away; five days after his brother had been buried. I am glad I spoke to him at the funeral and I told him how great he looked. He was in a wheel chair and had oxygen but he looked quite healthy and with a sharp mind. He knew my name and who I was. He told me how good I looked and said, "You must live a good life because you look good." My response was, "You were always a flatterer!"  I did not realize I would never speak to him again. A picture I took of my friend who had just lost her husband and her brother-in-law captured a tender moment.

The family is devastated and think that maybe the two brothers wanted to be in heaven together. That makes sense to me and it gives me comfort that they are in heaven together!

Another Goodbye

On April 6, 2017, I once again drove to Greeley, Colorado to attend another funeral. The mass was at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church and the burial would be in Eaton, a town about twenty minutes from Greeley. The church was full with family and friends. His grandson gave a eulogy that had some in tears while others chuckled at past remembrances.

After the funeral mass a long parade of cars drove to the cemetery passing many recently plowed farm lands. The scenery was dry, brown and grey until we reached a large plot of green grass with tombstones. Air Force soldiers folded the flag while the U.S. flag and the Veteran's flags flapped in the breeze. The salute of rifles was loud and when the sad strains of Taps was played on a trumpet, I know I was not the only one with a lump in my throat!

The four siblings sat together while their spouses sat behind them as tributes were read and presented. The priest prayed the final prayers, the coffin was lowered, and a metal cover was placed over the coffin. People tossed flowers into the grave as others lined up and hugged and kissed the family with their condolences.

As I hugged the daughter, she whispered in my ear, "Thank you for coming. My Dad lived a good life. He lived ninety-three years and he lived a full life. He did everything he wanted to do. He had no regrets!" All I could do was hug her and agree with what she was telling me. Her father had lived a good life, worked hard, raised a good family and now he was joining his wife in heaven.

There is nothing more to say but farewell to a beautiful man.
Dear God, give comfort to those who mourn. 
 Rest in Peace, Willie!

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