The date is Friday, March 31, 1995. My journey is taking me from Mom's house back to Columbus. It is a trip filled with much emotion. It is almost as though I am traveling from the past to the present. I am supposed to be working, but work is not on my mind. Not much work will be done today. Today will be the funeral for Uncle Wally Stover.
My journey started yesterday afternoon when I came to Mom's to visit the funeral home. Mom and I went to Wendys in Ravenswood for dinner. Mom was having a hard time with the passing of her only surviving brother. She and Uncle Wally were closer than her older brothers. She said this left only Aunt Hazel, Aunt Pete, and her. She wondered which would be the next to go. Our conversation centered on family.
From there, we traveled to Evans, WV to the Evans Funeral Home. Rob, Lil, and Phyllis were traveling together, and Linda and Rich would be along later. When Mom and I arrived, we were slow getting out of the car, reluctant to go in, but knowing we must.
Seeing Aunt Lizzy, Leonard, Altie, Belva, Irene, Alvin, and their families was both sorrow and joy; sorrow at meeting under the circumstances of losing a loved one, but joy at being together and visiting as a family. Our conversations were of kids, grandkids, Uncle Wally, and all the good times we had growing up. There were many good memories of rabbit hunts, sledding, and songs Uncle Wally sang for us that we still remember. Belva said her Dad had told her that he had made his peace with Jesus. This gave joy, even in the midst of sorrow.
This morning, Mom and I had breakfast together. We talked of family, both past and present. We both were reluctant to end our visit. I did not want to go to work, and Mom did not want me to leave. If only I could have stayed, gone to the funeral, and been with everyone.
My first stop was in Pomeroy to check in with Sallie and the office. From there I went to the Pomeroy parking lot to do some paperwork. Most of my time was spent just looking at the river and remembering times past. Finally, I moved on down the river, making two phone calls in a half-hearted attempt at setting appointments. I was relieved at no success.
I turned the radio to WMPO, only to find Uncle Dan Hayman on with his afternoon "Gospel Hymn Time." After a short time, he played an old portion of a show from 1962 that featured Sid and Carol Hayman singing 'The Family Bible." This only added to my emotions and state of mind. Memories continued of Dad and his family.
As I near Chillicothe, seeing the smoke stacks of Mead Paper brings me to the present. I am supposed to make a stop here. The radio is growing faint with interference from other stations. I don't want to turn it off, as though it is a link with the past. Part of the last song I can hear is "I hope we walk the last miles together."
I realize that I have family both behind me, and ahead of me. I think of Uncle Wally's family, and we are together. I may not be there, but I am with them The greatest treasure on this earth is our family. Together we can face anything.
When it is time for me to walk that last mile of life's journey, I know it will be a time of both sorrow and joy. I know that I will have family both behind me, and ahead of me. The greatest joy will be mine, for I will see my Jesus. He makes the journey worth traveling.