My uncle passed away on Sunday morning after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 73.
On Sunday morning I received a text from my Dad informing me of the news. Dad had to work that day so he was checking that I was going over to see my Mum – who is now the last of her family alive. Her dad passed away in 1989, followed months later by her mum. Her sister had a stroke in 2001 and succumbed to the effects of the stroke in 2008.
I have very fond memories of my Uncle Raymond. As a 4 year old I remember his red anorak. I remember his laugh. I remember him calling me "wingnut" (have a look at my photo and you'll see why). I remember his model trains up in the attic. I am not sure whether I was allowed to play with the trains; I think I was only allowed to look, not to touch. I remember he worked for London transport.
As a 13 year old I remember him spending hours of his time taking me to museums, riding the buses and "the tube" in London. My family got bored of that stuff, but he never tired showing me knowledge, feeding me knowledge, filling my mind with trivia. We moved with breakneck speed from exhibit to exhibit, but both of us could speed-read the information, retain the information and then move on.
You see in my 42 years of life here on earth, the total amount of time I spent in the same country as my Uncle Raymond probably amounts to no more than 5-6 weeks of my entire life. The actual time I have spent with this man might actually be closer to about 20 days.
I don't think I ever spoke to him again after my time in London as a 13 year old. We weren't estranged from our family in England. I don't think Mum's relationship with him was fantastic, but it was amicable. I just never talked to him, rung him, or emailed him. He never did the same.
Perhaps there is someone in your life right now you need to ring, email or visit. Is there someone you need to say sorry to and reconcile with? Is there someone you need tell how special and important they are to you?
I meet and mix with people every day. I teach and coach. I play sport. I have neighbours. What does my life say about my beliefs?
I had 20 days in 42 years with my Uncle Raymond. He had an impact.
How will I impact those around me I spend more of my time with?
Do they see God?
Do they see Jesus?
Or do they just...
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html