I hope everyone has an “Uncle Cliff.” My Uncle Cliff is 99 years old and a storyteller. His memory is still sharp and he can recall experiences from World War II to current baseball statistics. Every time we visit him, I am reminded that he has more stories we need to hear.
I am thankful that he has recorded over 158 stories in a binder that he keeps close to his side. The stories are pulled out to bless visitors and I love to read Uncle Cliff’s stories out loud to him. I even shared two of Uncle Cliff’s stories with our younger son when he graduated from college. The stories warned that a “young engineer’s” degree doesn’t mean much if he doesn’t care about the people he supervises. Of course, Uncle Cliff said it much better than I ever could have: life experiences were interspersed with humor to make the lessons stick.
Since we live out-of-state, we only see Uncle Cliff twice in a good year. What always touches my heart is that Uncle Cliff remembers our stories. The first thing Uncle Cliff does is to grasp my hand and ask, “How many years has it been now?” He always knows the answer and then follows up with, “How are you doing?” Uncle Cliff never stopped celebrating the fact that I am a cancer survivor.
I like to think that as we held each other’s hands tightly, strength was flowing between us: the wiser to the younger and the younger to the older. In reality, it was Uncle Cliff’s strength of spirit that infused me. I tend to think Uncle Cliff will be with us forever. We don’t want to let go of a man that can still captivate us with his words.
But Uncle Cliff is not doing well. His body is worn out. At age 99 with failing health, I know there aren’t many stories left in him. I am comforted that his last story will be his very best story: the glory of heaven. Someday, our stories will merge and become one for all of eternity. Through faith in Jesus Christ, our lives have the same ending. Only God could write such a beautiful story!
Prologue: This post was written after we visited Uncle Cliff for the last time. He experienced heaven’s story firsthand in late October.
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
1 Corinthians 2:9
However, it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”