Sunday, December 16, 2012

Honoring my uncle’s life of 87 years

Dec. 7, Zephyrhills, Florida


My uncle who lived here in Zephyrhills died at the James A. Hayley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa on Wednesday, Nov. 28.  We arrived here on the 29th and have been grateful to be able to be here in support of my aunt.  As a way to acknowledge and honor my uncle’s life, my aunt wanted to have a small family dinner gathering here in Zephyrhills on Friday, Dec. 7.The date was a bit ironic, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, as my uncle served in the Navy as a wheelman aboard a munitions ship during WWII.  Most of my memories of him date back to my childhood in Illinois and early teen years in Northern Michigan where he would gladly visit us to hunt and fish. He had contracted polio at the young age of 21, at the end of WWII. This disease gradually took its toll on his strength and ability to walk on his own, especially in his later years.  He and my aunt moved to Florida about ten years ago to be near my mom and her husband who have also both passed away now. More reminders of the temporality of life on this planet. 

My three brothers who live in various parts of Florida all made it to the dinner along with a niece, a nephew, sister-in-law. a cousin and his girlfriend and son. We had a nice meal at a local steakhouse and everyone had a chance to tell stories about Bill, with my older brothers able to recall memories reaching back more than fifty years to my uncle’s courtship of my aunt. I made a little photo collage and wrote a short blurb recounting some of the highlights of his life which I read to everyone. It was a very casual and a sweet tribute to his gentle spirit.

My uncle was not a religious man in any traditional sense, so I found a poem about hunting and fishing that really captured our family’s view of him in heaven.

Heaven’s Fishing Hole

For years, the riverbank was where
Your soul felt most at peace
Your heart was most content when there
With the fish and the geese
But then, your spirit came to rest
Where angels chose to roam
And once equipped with ten pound test
You made yourself at home.

The sky became your deep blue sea
The clouds became your shore
And there, for all eternity
You sat with friends galore
Each angel was a fisherman
Who had traded his pole
For golden wings and a game plan
At Heaven’s Fishing Hole.

The tales you told about each catch
Its stature and its girth
Will live in memories unmatched
As days pass here on earth
Until we meet again, one day
Upon God’s golden sand
We’ll picture you, no other way
Than with a pole in hand.

--Jill Eisnaugle

Here’s to you Bill, a life of 87 years well-lived.
bill's collage_1

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely tribute to your uncle. I hope your aunt will get to see it.


Don't be shy. We would love to hear your comments!