Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Good Ending

Last weekend I returned to my old home town. The place I was born, Salcha Alaska.

I always love returning home. Its quiet and peaceful. It’s a calm place with little noise and no bright city lights. I feel refreshed after just a day or two there.

The reason I went though not so pleasant. My Uncle had died. His was one of the fast and unexpected deaths. A brain tumor that snuck up on him and by the time it was diagnosed it was too late, he died within a week.

He was a testament to what it is to be a good member of the community. He owned the general store in Salcha for 38 years. Every member of the community had walked through his doors at some point, most of them at least once a week. He sold them milk and fresh eggs, canned soup, meat and boxed cereal. He fixed their tires and gassed their vehicles from the lone pump in front of the store. He also delivered heating oil to the majority of residents.

The store was run the old fashioned way, still is now by his son. Most residents were allowed to keep a monthly tab at the store, some even longer than that. He delivered groceries to the homes of some of the elderly. If he didn’t see someone come in for a long while, he might drive out to their place just check on them and make sure they were alright.

My Uncle was a man who never bragged, or talked about himself. He could laugh deeply and work long and hard whether in the store, in the garage, in the potato and hay fields, or on any myriad of building projects, digging projects, earth moving, lumber felling, road grading…whatever. He did it and he enjoyed it.

He was a man whose life was well lived, and he left a great impression on his family and his neighbors.

I count myself lucky to have been among the last to see him alive, and talk with him not long before he left. He was ready. He had no fear. The end was mercifully swift.

I only pray that I too may have as good an ending.
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