I often debate how much I want to share of my personal life. Many see the beautiful parts through pictures but never the painful aspects I keep close. But now, I must honor someone very special to me. I’m certain he would want me to share the lessons I’ve learned if there’s even a small chance it could help someone else.
My dear uncle passed away on January 3rd – two weeks ago today – at 61 years young. In late June of last year, only 6 months ago, he was diagnosed with stage 2 esophageal cancer. Stage 2 quickly turned out to be mistaken, and instead, stage 4 and metastasized to the liver. He was full of life and love and optimism.
Over the last 6 months, he got progressively sick, never losing hope but constantly with another challenge to bear. Uncle Jon taught me that you often cannot control your situation, but you can control your attitude. He showed me that a bad event, or even series of events, doesn’t make a bad life. He inspired with eternal hope and he gave glory to his Maker even in the worst of it.
Only days before he passed, I received a package in the mail from him. The words he wrote to me that I’d most like to share with you are this: “Always have a purpose, let nothing ever get in the way of or steal your joy and be the best givers you can possibly be.” If those aren’t words to live by, then I don’t know what are. There is no truer sentiment, and only more so from someone who knew his time on earth would soon be up.
Losing Uncle Jon has broken my heart and opened it at the same time. He showed me with no uncertainty what’s important in life. I can tell you what really doesn’t matter in the end. Your job, your title, your wealth – or lack thereof, your possessions. These all are discarded when you go. All you leave behind are memories of you. How do you want to be remembered? Kind or cruel? Giving or selfish? Loving or full of hate? I know who I want to be, and I will strive every day to be better. It’s what Uncle J would have wanted.