Wednesday, September 07, 2005

aft agley

My Uncle Arlen will be laid to rest today, and I am sad. Almost a week ago, now, Arlen was driving across the prairies of North Dakota's south-east corner when a semi-truck crossed the center line of the highway and hit him head on. He was killed instantly.

Truth be told, I didn't know Arlen all that well. To me, he was just a mildly cantakerous man with a thick northern accent and a wry sense of humor. Husband of my mother's oldest sister. A presumably decent man whom I never really got the opportunity to know... So on this level, the pain of his loss is less than tangible.

Yet I'm sad for my cousins who have now lost both of their parents... Generations left without parents/grandparents to tell stories, offer advice, fill in the missing pieces of childhood memories and family geneologies... I'm also sad to hear that my cousins were not at peace with their father when he died -- having made the unfortunate decision to harbor grudges until some undisclosed point in the future...

I'm sad for my Grandpa Liechty, and sad for the family business... Arlen had become our best hope for the continuation of Liechty Associates and really the only one who knew the business anywhere near the level of Grandpa. I'm sad (and a little bit scared) for the unknown future...

I'm sad to realize how fragile human life really is and how tenuous my plans for the future must be. Perhaps it's a cliché to utter such truisms -- you know, all that crap about the best laid plans of mice and men... But I cannot escape these realizations in the face of death. I am slapped in the face again and again and again by my powerlessness. The bruise is my sadness.

My only response can be the conclusion of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes. My trust and respect must be in something infinite. And my responsibility must be to embrace life as it is, settle grudges, offer compassion, embrace my wife, breathe in the sweet-and-salty smells of Elliot's hair, playfully nibble the flesh beneath Olivia's chin until she giggles and giggles and giggles... And hope for postponement of the "aft agley" for as long as possible.


At 12:10 AM, Anonymous DA said...

The funeral was a funeral. Some said that it was good, but my mind was much to analytical to comprehend if it was good or not. It did not move me--and that bothers me! I suspect that it was simply a matter of me not feeling any pain right now--even though I'd like to because I know that I ought to. Barbara, the widow, was pleased with the funeral, and I guess that's what counts. There were a few comments made by the pastor about the deceased that obviously did not square with the perception of his sons--lines like, "he was a good family man", etc. So, I analyzed and I missed the beauty of the grief. I still have a chance to grieve--in time, as I reflect and absorb--but it hasn't come yet.

At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Linda Kitchen said...

I'm sorry to hear of your sadness with the loss of your Uncle. Your choice to embrace the deepest things in life, will certainly result in fulfillment.
Since we all "share a common destiny.... ", that of death, it's while we're living that we should really live: " your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do." Eccl. 9: 2, 7
- Linda


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