My grandmother LouLou loved that old hymn, and she even convinced me to have it played as a benediction at my wedding long long ago. It kept coming to my mind over and over again this past weekend as I traveled to North Carolina for my Uncle Brother's memorial service. There were surely tears and lots of them, but there was so much laughter, downright good will, and genuine deep-seated joy that kept bubbling up and overflowing everywhere. I know that my uncle would have been proud, and I think he would have wanted to be at his own service and at the celebration of life afterward. It was that good.
My uncle was all about family. He and his wife were happily married for fifty-three years, and he and my aunt believed each had found their soul mate in the other. How special is that? Together they raised four children and are grandparents to fourteen grandchildren. The grandchildren were the light of my Uncle Brother's life, and it was fitting that at the memorial service, they were front and center. Two of them played the musical prelude--a collection of hymns--on the piano; another played several lovely classical pieces on the cello; one read Sea Fever by John Masefield and yet another read scripture from The Song of Solomon along with a poem by Henry Van Dyke. However, the piece de resistance had to be the eulogy delivered by my uncle's son. He did his father proud. He captured the essence of the man without being too maudlin or overly sentimental. He kept it real. He struck the right chord. We laughed and we cried and we laughed some more. And when he finished we could not help but be comforted, encouraged, and so very thankful to have known such a good man.
I treasure the time I was able to spend with my cousins and my aunt. The memories and the traditions run deep. But I added to them this weekend. A hundredfold. Here are a few pictures of my beloved Carolina family taken during our time together. Blessed be the tie that binds...yes, indeed!