Thursday, December 5, 2013

Remembering Uncle Craig

Dear Grands,

Today was a very hard day for our family.  We said our goodbyes and celebrated the life of my first, best friend:  Uncle Craig.

Uncle Craiger was Pops’ baby brother.  He was 13 when I was born.  And there wasn’t anyone I’d rather play with at our house, at the lake, on the farm…anytime, anywhere, any place!  Craiger took me on his adventures, and he loved to make me laughJ

We moved to Lubbock for a couple of years when I was little, and Craig came to stay with us as often as he could.   My favorite spot was riding on top of his strong shoulders and wrestling in the living room floor until I couldn’t hold my head up.  Craiger never ran out of energy or got tired of playing with me!

Craiger went with us to the lake from the day I was born.  I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t there…skiing, swimming, fishing with Pops, or skimming stones across the muddy, red Ft. Phantom waves.  He taught me what it meant to love life and family.

Uncle Craig got older, and so did I!  He started dating a precious young lady named Fay.  When he brought her to meet us, he was so happy.  Love just sparked between those two, and I figured out real quickly that Kimmy and I were about to have a new member of our family.

Craig and Fay had their wedding in our backyard.  It was one of the highlights of my young life.  Fay walked into the garden dressed like a princess…she was the most beautiful bride I’d ever seen.  And Uncle Craig looked so handsome.  He surely was a prince.  It was just like a fairy tale come true…right there at our house!  Kim and I learned a lot about what true, everlasting love was from Uncle Craig and Aunt Fay.  Life was not always fun, fair, or kind to them, but they walked through time together…no matter what came their way.  And they always prayed together and sought God’s will for their lives and those of their family.

Uncle Craig and Aunt Fay adopted a precious baby boy named Cavin when Kim and I were in Middle school.  He was absolutely perfect!  Here I was playing with Craig’s baby just the way he had with meJ  When Cavin was 4 years old, Mom called us to come home from school, and we rushed to Hendricks Hospital.  Cavin had been in an accident and had been badly burned.  We arrived, and I’d never seen Uncle Craig so torn up.  He and Fay just couldn’t quit crying.  We prayed with them, and stayed with them until the doctors sent Cavin to a burn unit where he died soon after.  I remember getting so angry at God.  Why wasn’t he healing this precious baby that we prayed for so hard?  Uncle Craig and Aunt Fay showed me the answer to my question through the way they lived their lives.  They testified to the unconditional love and grace that Jesus gives everyone.  They never showed bitterness, and God used their testimony to bring so many lost souls to the Lord.  I truly believe that their testimony stabilized my view of eternal life.  Craig and Fay didn’t just say that they would be reunited with Cavin in heaven one day…they believed it and preached it!  They went on living …bringing others to God’s saving grace by their example.

They adopted two more babies, Robin (who was a baby when Cavin died) and Barry, who I’m proud to say are not only my precious cousins, but my dear friends.  My cousins are truly gifts from God!

Uncle Craig, Aunt Fay, Robin, and Barry may not have always lived near us, and we didn’t get to visit often, but when we did, our time was filled with joy, laughter, and the love of our family.  What a gift we all had…each other.

Two weeks ago, while he was recovering from brain surgery, Uncle Craig called me.  Of course, I was trying to get him to tell me how he was feeling, what type of treatment he was planning to have, etc…(.I always was the “chatty” oneJ). But Uncle Craig was himself…he didn’t call to talk about how he was.  No, he wanted to tell me how excited he was that Daddy (Pops) had moved to into assisted living.  He said that he couldn’t believe how well he was doing and the great changes he had seen in him.  He wanted me to know that we had done the right thing.  That’s my Uncle Craiger…always thinking of everyone else.

Now, Uncle Craiger has left us for a little while.  He’s with Cavin, MaMaw, PaPaw, Mother (Mumsie), and lots of other family members and friends.  He’s seated at the feet of His precious Savior, who he loved with all his heart and loved to tell others about.  We will grieve his absence and look forward to the day we will see him again.  But, as our family always has done, we’ll remember great stories, retell funny times, replay good days and the hard ones we thought we’d never get through…but we did!

And we’ll recall how Craiger helped us find the joy in it all, and held our hands so we wouldn’t stumble.  We’ll remind each other how he prayed for each and every person in our family even when we didn’t know or think we needed it, and how he served others in his church and community without anyone knowing it…
But Kim and I watched and saw a real man who loved the Lord and served Him.  He taught us what it meant to live for the Lord.

We also saw the way he loved our Aunt Fay from the very first moment we met her until he drew his last breath.  It was a love made in heaven.  Craig respected her, expressed that love, and taught us how we needed to be treated by a man.   Kim and I are both so thankful for those lessons we learned from their love story.

We watched him raise his children with love and through the way he lived. And, most importantly, he taught them to love the Lord with all their hearts!  What a legacy!

Grands, you’re going to always hear me tell stories about my Uncle Craig.  He has always been and will always be my precious uncle and my friend.  You’ll see me laugh and watch me cry as I remind you how much he meant to me.  I just hope that I can strive to love, live, and serve others as he did and that I can teach you just as he did me.

                                              I love you,

Uncle Craiger, dance and sing and praise the Lord!  You made a difference in so many lives in your years with us.  Thank you for being my first, best friend, and for loving me so unconditionally.  I’ll bet you’ll be the first to meet me when I walk through heaven’s golden gates!

I love you forever!

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