This story begins in 1949, with the birth of a man child, whose soft skin and wide open eyes were simple repetitions of billions upon billions of other new lives that have entered this difficult world. As he grew, he learned a lot of hard lessons, some from those who loved him and some from less amiable people. What else could he do?
He lost his father at the age of 10, and life got harder, quickly, for him, his brother, and his mom. They got by, though, and when he thought he was man enough, he volunteered to go to a war that the rest of the country was being drafted into. He fought to protect the freedoms and lives of people he didn't know, being formed and tempered in a foreign land by battle, finally coming home to a country that didn't welcome him. What else could he do?
Perhaps because he had been so close to death, so many times, he was eager to start a family, and when he met a beautiful girl soon after his return, they married quickly. For 10 years he learned some more tough lessons, with that beautiful girl. They had and lost at least 5 babies during those 10 yrs, but they also had 2 boys who survived. In their 10th year, he lost that beautiful girl, and the oldest of the 2 boys, in a sudden and tragic car accident. Suddenly, he was a single father, with a boy who needed a lot of extra care because he was born with cystic fibrosis, and a full time job that took him away from home on a regular basis. He didn't give up, though. What else could he do?
He married another beautiful girl only a few years later. Together, they worked and raised that single boy, and made a home for themselves. Life was good and bad. Up and down. He worked away from home in a dirty and dangerous job, but he was so good at it that other men marveled. He worked when he was sick and when he was healthy, setting an example for his son that few sons have. He was a loyal and hardworking man, that other men could trust. He came home to his family as often as he could, and they went to him when the boy wasn't in school. What else could he do?
For 30 years he worked hard, and he dreamed of being retired, and doing the things he'd always wanted to do. He dreamed of rafting the Mississippi River, and braving the wildernesses of the United States however he was able. He dreamed of going to Alaska, and breathing the wild northern air in a place where the sun doesn't set all summer. He did get to retire, in May, 2011, and visit Alaska.
He then had to set aside every other hope for this life as he learned of a new battle that he had to fight, and this one drafted him before he even knew about it. He fought with courage, and humor, and determination. He never quit a fight in his life, and he never quit fighting this fight, but it was a battle he wasn't able to win. What else could he do?
He was an extraordinary man, different from other men. He faced what life threw at him and figured out a way to keep going, and managing to love many people in the process. He wasn't perfect, he was just a man. Getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home and going to sleep, only to start all over the next day, without any promise of tomorrow, only the hope of it. The world is full of men and women who live out their days, doing the best they can. When you look at this life, in this world of imperfect men, you might be tempted to become discouraged - it all seems so brief and futile. When you look at this man's life, you might be moved to exclaim "not fair!". Why all the pain and trouble?
I began writing this post the day after Christmas, 2011. Chuck was resting on the futon we'd changed to a bed in the living room, probably either in pain, or feeling sick, as he usually did for those long months. Something else happened in those long months, though, that I must share. Chuck had the time to focus on his family, and his friends, in a very special way. I began to see a gentle, compassionate, and patient man I'd never seen before, coming out of the strong, dependable, and often hard to reach man I married. Tears came easily, and he learned to accept help from others. God had been seeking Chuck for his whole life, and I learned that Chuck had finally accepted God even before he'd left for Alaska. I am finishing this post the morning before his memorial service, in June 2012. I am convinced that God created him to be much more than he was able to be in this life, and that he is finally at rest, with his Savior, expressing himself without restraint and feeling the love that has always been his, but never fully allowed while he was in this world. So I can say with confidence that he has been healed, and he is immersed in love, today.
What else could he do?