Today is my Uncle Bill’s 90th birthday!
He is my dad’s brother, the oldest of the four children in his family.
I can’t say I knew him well as a young child. His branch or our tree lived in Iowa and we would maybe see them for a few days every few years.
For me, while he was a Methodist Minister and gave sermons nearly every Sunday, I saw his leadership through his actions since it wasn’t often that I was where he would preach.
A few years after I moved to Colorado, I found out Uncle Bill was bringing out groups of youth from his church for a hiking trip each summer. They would hike in the Rawah Wilderness in Northern Colorado.
Two of my cousins said that they would be joining him on a trip one year and invited me to join in the crew. Nothing unravels years of stories between family like long hikes, early nights and a common pursuit. The pursuit was to see who if anyone would keep up with Uncle Bill each day.
Uncle Bill was probably already in his early sixties when he took us all on that backpack trip with the church group. I was in my mid twenties and my cousins a few years ahead of me. The hike is a fairly long one up to where he would have us all set base camp for the group. Once at base camp he would lead hikes up various trails and peaks to a different named mountain top each day.
We started the week with the intention of going on each and every trek that he could plan for us. Not one of us made it on every hike that the determined preacher would take each day.
He did not map out where folks could go and send them on their way. He led his hikes. He showed us that there were amazing and glorious rewards for the effort of making it to the top. He showed us how every corner holds the possibility of a new view. He showed how a hard trail can change your perspective on what a hard day is. He showed that we all could indeed push ourselves more than what is comfortable and come out with a sense of accomplishment that we hadn’t known we could have.
He didn’t preach of God’ s wonders, he showed us. He didn’t preach of what we could do, he showed us.
A few years later, he married my hubby and I on one of those very trips. It was at a spot we called inspiration point. A chapel of immeasurable beauty and wonderment. A service that only one minister that we knew could do.
I sit here typing these thoughts of him and his influence while drinking a cup of water and have to think of him once more.
It was on a visit several years back when he and Aunt Eileen were here that when asked if I could get them coffee or tea in the morning, they both asked for hot water. Sure, I could do that figuring that they must have their own tea bags or something to add to the hot water. No, they just wanted the hot water stating that it was very refreshing and soothing and didn’t require any additives to be satisfying for them.
I thought this was borderline bazaar as I had never encountered such a request. They didn’t justify it with twenty reasons why drinking plain warm water is good for you, they just provided the example. Soon, I tried it and became a huge fan of a nice cup of hot water at any time during the day. Today, I too know how a cup of warm or hot water is as equally refreshing as a cup of cold water can be.
He has taught us all so many things and joined in so many fun events over the years that he has given us all the model of how to advance in our lives.
It is easier getting older when there is someone you hope you can grow up to be like. Thanks Uncle Bill for providing the example of who we want to be when we grow up.
Love and Birthday Wishes,