The trip from Massachusetts to North Carolina went amazingly well. Chris and I weren’t sure how it would go. We knew we wanted to avoid traffic so we decided to drive through the night. Uncle John had always said that was the best time to travel, too, so I felt that approval right from the get-go. Gotta tell you — the views were not bad. We were in the hills of PA when the sun dipped down for the night.
The plan was to grab a hotel 90 minutes from the church, and we pulled in around 5:30 am. I knew it was a long shot, but asked if we could check in that early (offering to pay a bit extra, of course). The woman at the desk said she would make sure we had a spot and didn’t charge us a penny extra. She remembered being in similar situations and felt we should get rest. How kind!
The next morning we were well-rested as we headed into Ashville. It was a treat watching the fog lift up from the mountains.
I can’t help but think Uncle John was smiling down as he saw us relatives greeting each other. I haven’t been together with all my Long Island cousins at once in over 30 years, I think. The service itself was beautiful. There is a video of the memorial service on vimeo.com/726313494.
In my youth I attended a Lutheran church, a Baptist school and Wesleyan college. Then I married into a Methodist preacher’s family. I’m kind of not any denomination. Just a Christian who attends online services for the sermons. So I’m not always surrounded by hymns anymore. Uncle John was big on old hymns. Standing there, encompassed by cousins and other relatives, the old words flowed over me as we slipped into four-part harmonies by instinct. Oh the poetry of the words. And the sounds. It all hits the heart in a unique way, and brought great peace.
During the service people stood up and shared stories of what Uncle John meant to them. I was too teary to attempt saying anything, but loved hearing the different ways his living affected others. Even the pastor got choked up at one point!
After the service we had cookies and coffee and talked with people. We got to meet many of the delightful neighbors Aunt Anne writes about. Then the relatives headed to the homestead for more food and conversation.
As I was growing up, I kept hearing about a family member (Rick) on Aunt Anne’s side of the family who was talented in doing magic tricks. She even wrote about his shows a few times. I have to admit I always wanted to see him in person.
A highlight of this gathering was getting to see one of the shows live. In fact, Chris and I were chosen to participate! Usually I hate being put on the spot like that, but the crowd was so friendly all I felt was a sense of being part of the fun.
He topped off the show by playing Edelweiss on a saw. Wow!
My cousin later shared that he enjoyed doing the show but missed hearing Uncle John’s deep laughter. Lise was quick to point out that it started thundering as he was wrapping up. She thinks it was Uncle John laughing from the heavens, and I don’t disagree 🙂
Chris and I planned to start the all-night drive back to MA around 5pm, but we were having too much fun so ended up leaving much later. The time with family was priceless. We even got to see some fireworks from the porch. The memories of that weekend and of Uncle John will be with us forever.