It has been too long since we went on a walk together, but in this New Year, I hope to walk with you each and every week. I’ve missed walking with you, but it seems that life just caught up with me and my schedule; although retired, it has been more complicated than I thought possible.
I hope you have been well. I’m still here, although I thought when I was much younger that I might not live to see the year 2000. In my heart and with faith, I believe that God still has tasks for me to do. My faith is a key to my life. I do not know how I could exist without my Christian faith or without my dear wife of over thirty years.
When I married Dale, we both knew there was a significant difference in our ages. I told Dale it was going to be more difficult on her as I grew older, and it certainly has been that way. Restricted in how much weight I can lift and how far I can walk has caused me to realize how it was going to be difficult for me as well as her. When I see her carry heavy groceries into our home or lift a bag of wood pellets out of our truck, I am filled with remorse that I cannot carry those burdens. She assures me that she is fine, so I tease her that she is a weightlifter. But all the same, it makes me feel sorrowful inside. How blessed I am to have such a caring partner in my life. Oh, and before I forget, at least I can tell you that while I may not be able to do some things, but I am a great laundry person. Not only do I wash and fold the clothes, but I also put them away where they belong. Maybe that helps to even the tasks, at least in some ways. That is what marriage and teamwork is all about in my opinion. We are a good team together and have been ever since our marriage day.
On the thirty-first of December, I started to think about our walk. On my calendar the thirty-first is marked as Joseph Hill Remembrance Day. Last year, I began to mark special days in memory of people I have known who have passed away and many who are still living and have been an important part of my life. Indeed, you may be one of those people on my list.
My Uncle Joe passed away many years ago, but his memory is strong in my recollection. He was the oldest son of my mother’s father and mother, my grandparents. He had five younger sisters. Being the oldest son, my uncle was said to be somewhat spoiled. That is true and not true. He was the apple of my grandmother’s eye but had to become the head of the household when my grandfather passed away at the age of around forty. My uncle took over his father’s delivery business at Faneuil Hall, and eventually the firm went bankrupt. He was only eighteen and my grandmother should have listened to her husband when he became ill to let his foreman Billy Fitts run the business, not their young son. He warned her that the market in Boston was a tough place to be, and it needed an older, more knowledgeable, and worldly-wise person to run it.
When the business failed, my uncle had to resort to make a living any way he could; he ended up reading the gas meters in Chinatown, in Boston.
That was a very difficult job. Eventually, he became an outstanding salesman for a woolen company.
On many Sunday evenings the whole family, Joe, his sisters, their husbands and children would go to his home in Melrose where the cousins and families would have supper and play all kinds of games. Those were very happy family days.
Joe passed away in his early sixties and was one of the first funerals that I officiated at as a newly ordained pastor. His wife was my aunt Rena, a character in her own right; he had two daughters Shirley and Audrey.
I wish families could be more like the family I knew growing up. Families were not separated by living in different cities and states. All of my mother’s sisters and her brother lived in communities next to each other or very close by. When someone was ill, there was always family help. When my mother and father would take a rare vacation from their seven children, my Aunt Grace would come to take care of us. Now she is another character to talk about at another time.
In this new year, we will walk with many different people. Jesus centered his life around people and taught us that the most important part of being alive is being aware of people, their needs, their likes, and dislikes. I believe He tells us we are here to serve and to make life more pleasant for each other through our love and caring.
I speak of my mother’s family on our walk, but all people are a part of our family. May this new year bring us new friends, reconnection to old ones, and an overflowing love of humanity. In our society today, we so need to return to family values and respect for one another. Perhaps you too might like to put Remembrance Days on your calendar and recall the people who have blessed and become a part of your life.
Thankful for friends and loved ones, I wish you a Happy New Year and will look forward to our walk next week.
MAY THE LORD WATCH BETWEEN ME AND THEE WHILE WE ARE ABSENT ONE FROM THE OTHER.