By Tracy Renee Lee
When I was a child, my dad’s best friend had a terrible accident. He was a young man who had recently graduated from high school. After a fun outing that went horribly wrong, he became a quadriplegic. Back in the early 1960s, the prospects for such misfortune were not very favorable. Out of extreme love for his best friend, my dad brought him into our home. The labor of love, demonstrated by my father to his best friend, brought them into a new relationship; they became brothers. My dad’s best friend was now my uncle.
My father was then and continues to be an engineering genius. He designed and manufactured many assistive devices for my uncle that were completely before their time. Amazingly, my father took my uncles vehicle and with a cutting torch, welding machine, and unyielding faith, reworked it until my quadriplegic uncle could drive it for himself. He manufactured things for my uncle’s hands that allowed him to relearn to write. There were many other devices that my dad made for my uncle, but not all of them together could match the investment of acceptance and confidence my dad poured out to his best friend. These gifts gave my uncle his independence, his dignity, and returned his hope for his future.
As his independence grew, he was less dependent on my parents and eventually became a tax accountant. As time passed, he married a woman from the northern United States. He and my parents were geographically separated as my dad’s work took our family out west.
My uncle died last week, and I buried him beside his wife. My family was not in attendance. My siblings were conspicuously absent. My mother is too ill to travel, but my father, who lives in the area, made a decision not to come to his former best friend’s services.
Some years back, my father and my uncle joined together in a business venture that did not fare well. As fortunes were lost, so too was their brotherhood. As he began dying, my uncle tried to reconnect with my dad; sadly, his efforts were fruitless.
Broken-hearted, I took a moment at my Uncle’s funeral, “Life and love are divine gifts from God. My uncle and my father are good men, and they enjoyed these supernal gifts as brothers. To help us overcome our weaknesses, God offers his loving assistance as we navigate the trials of life. To help us overcome our transgressions, He restores our peace through His glorious gift of forgiveness.
My prayer is that as we travel through life, our trials will build our strength, increase our integrity, and bring us closer to the divine nature of our Father who is in heaven. However, should we fail,
I pray that we exercise His miracle of forgiveness toward ourselves, and toward others, so that our souls will be restored to joy, and our loved ones will remain serenely intact.”
My dad and my uncle battled to retain their fortunes. While their battle destroyed many things, their most significant loss was, sorrowfully, each other.