To some, I might still be considered a youngin’. To others, I am old as dirt. I’m not sure where I fit, but I am pretty sure I can’t claim to be middle-aged anymore unless I will make it to 120 years old.
A few days ago I attended the funeral for the most solid Christian man I have ever known, my uncle Eddy Fenner. He was my mother’s older brother and the last surviving member of that generation of the family. He passed about six months after his sister (my mother) and less than two months after his wife of 40 years. Needless to say, I had many things that went through my head that day.
We all tend to watch people as they interact with others. Yes, I did that a lot that day. These were people that I have known most of my life. I remember them all much younger, healthy, and full of life. It also comes to mind the jobs they performed or maybe the talents they had. The only difference was, while still the same person, they were at the twilight stage of life. Some of them needed help to walk to the front of the church. It saddened me to see them, and I got a good look at the circle of life right in front of me. Thoughts ran through my head about the events in past years that made a huge impact on my life even though it didn’t seem so at the time — things that I will never forget.
Like the times I stayed all night at Eddy’s house as a kid. He worked in Wilmington and the family only had one car. Before daylight, the whole family, plus me, crammed into the red VW to take him to work and repeated the same trip later that day. I was astonished they didn’t just buy another car.
When I hadn’t been married very long and had always had a passion for older cars, Eddy surprised me. At the time I had almost nothing to my name. Out of nowhere, he showed up at my house with a work bench he had just made for me. I still use it to this day.
Moments later, when I got over the sadness that goes with any funeral we attend, I had a very profound thought that occurred to me. The folks that I was almost spying on were all a part of my childhood. Some had minor roles while others played a major part in who I am today. But almost all of them helped mold me into the person I am today. It almost seemed I was outside the box looking in. Aside from the fact that a lot of them I hadn’t seen in a very long time, they were there when I was a child and learning the rights and wrongs of life. I think that happens and we don’t even realize it. Everyone that’s around kids plays a part in who they are and who they will be. Two very important things were shown to me on that day. I don’t think either one can be disputed by anyone with any goodness in their heart.
1. — As adults, kids are watching and learning from us every second we are with them. It can be from our family or not, that part doesn’t really matter much. They watch how we treat the waitress, how we react in traffic, and how we treat others in general. What a responsibility we have as we act or react in the correct way to teach them the proper way to live and show respect to all.
2. — While we always show respect for others, if it is in our power we need to control who our children are with. We should never give this enormous power to anyone not deserving of such a task. Let’s face it, there are adults and even other children that we must not even for a minute let them influence those so dear to us. This task should never be in the hands of the undeserving.
Being older, uncle Eddy’s body was frail, his eyesight was almost gone, and he was ready to move out of this life. I will miss our talks about the past and present. He loved to talk about his faith and the church he attended. I will just miss him as we all do when we lose someone we love.
But most of all, I think I am grateful — grateful that he was put in my life, grateful for the example he showed me since childhood, grateful for showing me how I need to live and treat others. He had a huge impact on my life along with so many others I saw that day.
Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.