His name was Ruble, but folks often called him R.P. At 84 years old, he lived a full life, even though the doctors said he wouldn’t make it to age 18 because of a battle with rheumatic fever when he was 13 years old. I love the name Ruble…perhaps it is because I loved the man so. It is a robust name, just as robust as the man and his beautiful deep voice. I’ve heard his hearty laughter ringing in my ears several times over the past few days since he left us.
He married my dad’s sister, Maggie, in 1951, and they were married 59 years. Though I love all my cousins, I am closer to his daughter, Debbie, and her wonderful family. Life and distance keeps me from seeing my kin as often as I’d like. I haven’t seen RP in some time; last October, Roger (Ole Boy) and I were planning to visit, but Roger got sick and we had to cancel the plans. On the weekend that we buried him, Roger and I were planning to take a quick run up so that I could see him, and I knew it would be my last time…only….if only.
However, it would not really be the “last time” I would have seen him. Because we are so fortunate and blessed to know Jesus, our family will spend eternity together in a place where parting and grief and pain and sorrow will be completely and forever unknown. At the cross, Jesus gave us, among so many other gifts, hope.
Ruble will indeed be missed on this earth. His grandson, Nicholas, referred to him as a true gentleman. I couldn’t agree more; and like Nick, I know we were all honored to have had him in our lives.
As we travelled the miles to say goodbye and to be with our family during their heartbreak this past weekend, I wanted to ponder. I looked at my own parents and pushed back thoughts of just how fragile life is. I chose, instead, to reflect on the man and the mountains, a place he loved, and a place I love, as well.
Even at a very young age, I knew Ruble was special, and I liked him a lot. Memories flood me as I try to write this blog…from his assuring me, as a small preschooler, that I didn’t, after all, have worms in my pants (I don’t know why I thought I did!), to him taking me on a drive around the mountains, showing me such picturesque scenery, that I fully understood why he loved the area so. I remember silly things that we talked about over the years, like how he liked pens that wrote bold and not fine, and that he had neat handwriting.
In later years, I always told him he was my favorite. I meant it…I hope I didn’t hurt any of my other uncles’ feelings, because I wasn’t too discreet when I would tell him this.
The night before his funeral, Debbie asked me if I could believe he’s gone. No, I can’t. I wanted to offer some comfort, something to help her through the day…I failed miserably. But what can we say at a time like this? I know that God will supply all the grace we need to see us through the tough days. I assured her that He would give her the grace to make it though the next day, and He did. His supply of grace is unending, and He will continue to supply.
Goodbye, Sweet Uncle Ruble.