“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”― Oscar Wilde
It’s not every day you’ll find me quoting Oscar Wilde, but in this instance, his words make perfect sense.
I’ve blogged before about my approach to life and how growing up in a large family, where perhaps death and tragedy seem more common, has a lot to do with my sense of urgency toward life. I over commit, have trouble telling people no, and loathe wasting time. To merely exist is unacceptable. Is this necessarily a bad thing?
I have six siblings, so my parents’ home overflows when we’re all there at the same time with our children and grandchildren. My dad has fourteen siblings, so an extended Hodges family reunion has well over a hundred people, though empty spots exist from each generation. My aunts and uncles are well into their 70s and 80s (one just turned 90), yet many passed away young, and the trend has remained into my generation.
|Cemetery on my return visit in 2011|
My earliest childhood memory is trudging through a cemetery in the late 1960s, my little legs straining to keep up with the adults and older children, as infant twins were buried in tiny coffins. I hadn’t even started school, and the enormity and finality of death were thrust upon me. Life is so different now where parents go to extremes to shield their children from the natural process of dying. We’re doing our kids a disservice.
But I digress.
My point is that as I’ve watched the young and old alike pass from this world to the next, I’ve often heard the phrase “life is short.” And it is. Just in the past decade the number we’ve lost in my family is in the double digits, most relatively young, some my age or younger. We treasure our reunions and don’t take a single one for granted. We understand when we hug each other good-bye, it may be for the last time.
|My dad and his siblings|
(George in background)
My cousin George, a pillar of the Hodges family, and his wife Sabrina have hosted the reunion for years on their sprawling property graced by a beautiful wood home with a porch that wraps around the entire house. It’s a serene environment that bustles with activity for the day and then winds down to a quiet evening for the handful staying overnight. My husband, kids, and I have been in that handful relaxing on the porch, watching the sun set, and eating peanut butter pie. One year, we enjoyed a thunderstorm after sunset. We reveled in the thunderclaps and rain since we were in a severe drought back home in South Carolina.
|George talking with Josh|
(Sabrina in red shirt in background)
George once spent more than an hour at the end of this long day talking with my son Josh about being a police officer. A couple years later, Josh shared that he’d chosen to become a firefighter instead. George and Sabrina listened with rapt attention and asked questions about his training and future. I’ve encountered very few people who listen like that, especially to kids. They have a passion for kids, evidenced by the fact that George was a school resource officer for years until he retired last year, and Sabrina is a school principal.
|Playing a water game in the hot|
July weather in Florida
Hodges are headstrong and often set in our ways but passionate about our beliefs and how we treat others. As apparent is the urgency with which we live. So after New Year’s, the family starts anticipating the reunion on Fourth of July weekend in Hilliard, Florida. The family is so extensive and spread out around the country that this year we even have a FB page to make sure no one gets left out.
The reunion was part of my exchange with George on my birthday almost two weeks ago on Facebook.
A little more than twelve hours later, George began suffering strokes and was airlifted to a hospital in Jacksonville in critical condition. I was dumbfounded when I heard. This was unfathomable. I couldn’t believe it, yet at the same time, I could. Life is fragile. We fool ourselves on a daily basis by thinking otherwise.
Yet, we know who holds each day in His hand. Nothing dumbfounds God or catches Him by surprise. We simply have to make the most of each day in service to Him, and trust Him for the future.
No one holds the golden ticket to immortality on this earth. Our only hope for living forever into eternity is through the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Each week I ask if you have a prayer request you’d like to share. This week, I’d like you to pray for George and Sabrina, his elderly mother, siblings, and children. Pray specifically for George’s recovery and wisdom for his medical team as they make decisions for his future.
How may I pray for you? Please leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
God bless you all,
©Laura Hodges Poole