I’m a sucker for a good storyline. I’m the kind of guy that fully invests himself in a story. By the end of a book (or movie), I feel like I know the characters personally. I have celebrated victories with them, struggled with them, held hope for them, and “by golly”, they have become part of my life. I know that I am not alone in this. I see it all the time when people line up to see the latest Star Wars, Avengers, or Jason Bourne movie. ……Not to mention what we saw a few years back with the Twilight series. Unfortunately, every good story has an ending. To add to that, not every story ends that we want it to. Nevertheless, the story is not complete until it is finished.
This past weekend I had the honor of attending my uncle’s funeral services. It was such a bittersweet moment. In the forefront was the reality that we were all saddened by the departure of such a great man. On the other hand, there was such celebration of life. Friends and family members stood to share a storyline of 93 year span of love, laughter, and triumph. I learned that, as a young man, Ronald Reagan’s mother visited my uncle while he was in a hospital being treated for tuberculosis. She found out that he only had a 3rd grade education, so she encouraged him to go back to school. Although his primary language was Spanish, he was inspired by this encounter. He went on to earn his G.E.D. and a degree in engineering through correspondence school. Another story was told about a time when he, his siblings, and his dad were traveling by mule and wagon to the nearest city. During their travels a man with a Model-T Ford crashed into their mule and killed it with the impact. When asked how they got to their destination without that mule, my uncle would reply, “Easy, we had a spare mule.” (a second mule was tied to the back of the wagon). However, the most touching stories told were from family members who told about my uncle’s impact on their life. There was a brother who lived with him and my aunt during his last year of high school. There was a great-niece that remembered how he taught her how to do math. There was a neighbor that shared how he walked his lawn mower several houses down to help their family when her husband took ill. Hearing this, we as a family, laughed and cried together. There was so much beauty and so much pain being experienced all at once. However, as expected, every great story line eventually comes to end. There we were as a family, gathered with his precious sons and grand-children, turning the last page of his book. Although his story is now complete, the imprint of his story is imprinted on our hearts forever.
As I left the funeral this thought came to me, “As much as we as humans love storylines, the reality is that we actively participate in one every moment of our lives.” Our storylines give us the privilege to encounter people, places, victories, and challenges in the same manner that characters in good books and movies do. The difference is that we get to actively participate in the lives of the lives of the characters that we encounter in this lifetime. Unlike books and movies, we can tangibly see, touch, and interact with the characters around us. We have the privilege and ability to impact the story that we experience. However, as hard as we may try to fight it, that story someday will end…… Knowing this, makes me want to life differently. It makes me want to say the words “I love you” more often. It makes me want to spend more time with my friends and family. It makes me want to appreciate people more than material possessions. It makes me want to live this life well.
In conclusion, I’d like to say, “Thank you Uncle Moe!” You may no longer be with us in person, but you sure are making me think. I’m headed back home inspired by the legacy you left behind. Thank you for everything.
Life is short I want to live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short I want to live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for
Awaken, oh my soul!
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short I want to live it well- Live it well, Switchfoot
It is my desire to partner with you on your journey
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John Eli has spent over 15 years mentoring and coaching individuals in life skills, career transitions, and through organizational change. He has worked in behavioral health, pastoral care, and higher-education. He has found that he is most satisfied in life when he is helping people recognize their potential and assisting them to reach their goals.
He currently lives in Chandler, Arizona with his wife, mini-schnauzer and an antique piano whom he calls, “Betty.”