Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Uncle Odis

Odis and Eva Gatlin
My Uncle Odis' funeral was Monday afternoon and I took time away from work to do what I thought was the "right thing" . I picked Mother up as she wanted to go, too. It was held in a small funeral home in a very small town near here on a warm February afternoon. I had dreaded going as it was always uncomfortable for me to even visit other funeral homes, as this is also my profession.
Upon entering, we did the traditional thing by signing the register book and making our way to the front of the "chapel" to speak to Aunt Eva. She was composed and elegant, as always, but of course, very saddened. I have written in previous posts about his illness so this was not a totally unexpected death.
We seated ourselves near the back of the family section and watched as the little chapel began to fill with mourners. I saw many cousins and Mother was happy to be able to see many of her friends from that area that she is not able to see as often since she moved to Hopkinsville.
The little room filled quickly and began to overflow to a standing-room only crowd, as was befitting the man who had no enemies to my knowledge.
As the pastor of their church began to speak, my thoughts turned to those around me. It seems that just a few short years ago I was a little girl and these middle-aged folks were children, too. We saw each other at holidays, reunions, weddings, funerals. Now they had grandchildren with them and we only see each other at funerals. Many of us had lost a parent or maybe both. It was the saddest day I recall for quite some time.
Then I thought of Odis. Lots of thoughts of Odis. When I was about 10 or 12, my Mother was involved in a very serious automobile accident. She was actually hospitalized for more than a year. During that time our family was separated and Uncle Odis and Aunt Eva took me into their home and cared for me.
He was a simple, hard-working man. He worked days in the underground coal mines and eventually was able to purchase a small farm in Hopkins County. At that time, he had two small boys of his own and of course, Aunt Eva did not work outside the home.
He did not complain but gladly fed and clothed me, sent me to school and even paid for my piano lessons. They made sure I was in church every Sunday and loved deeply. I will never forget that time in my life nor the unselfishness with which they opened their homes and hearts to a little niece who needed them.
Of course, time passed and thankfully Mom fully recovered from that tragedy and we were all reunited.
Eventually Odis and Eva joined the Madisonville Church of Christ (coming from a Disciples of Christ Church) and things changed between us.
I am now a Baptist and believe that there is a place in heaven for all of us. I do not criticize other religions, especially those that I do not understand. But they did not understand me, I fear. They let me know quickly that I would "burn in hell" as only members of the Church of Christ may enter heaven. So of course, there grew a rift between us. I am sorry about that. I was sorry about that then.
My father died last year at the age of 80, but was saved and baptized at the nursing home where he was confined only a year and a half before he died. Aunt Eva and Uncle Odis would not come. I am sorry about that, too. My Dad was deeply hurt. Their pastor used to visit him but stopped after he was baptized by our Baptist minister. I am sorry about that, too.
I am thrilled that my Dad lived long enough to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and know he is in a better place. I feel that my Uncle Odis is in a better place, too. Yes, I believe members of the Church of Christ will meet me in heaven, too.
I miss my Dad every day. I miss my Uncle Odis.

1 comment:

Bunny Cates, said...

Great post today Auntie. Im glad you posted a pic of Odis. I have looked and looked and I didnt have one.