A week ago, I lost a brother-in-law. Ralph was a consummate gentleman, a man of God who oozed integrity. These days, it's increasingly hard to find guys who qualify for words like "gentleman" or "integrity". He was the type of friend who would do anything for you and you didn't necessarily have to ask. Last year, even when his health was obviously limiting his activities, he repeatedly offered to come help me clean out and organize my garage. The point is not that he wouldn't have been able to help much...it's that he still wanted to be a buddy even in his condition.
I couldn't get Ralph to ever say anything bad about anyone. He simply considered others better than himself and refused to be drawn into discussions that included put-downs or gossip. Very simply, he was a better man than I. This in spite of the fact that I nearly cut his hand off many years ago. We were using a chain saw to cut down a large tree in our in-laws' yard. We were almost finished, but I was trying to cut a large piece into smaller pieces and Ralph's hand drifted a little too close. The saw kicked upward and nailed one of his thumbs. The thumbnail was almost completely severed and there were other slices all around the nail. The rest of his life, Ralph carried around maybe the ugliest thumb I've ever seen. And, he refused to blame me, saying it was all his fault. Yeah, right.
Four days after Ralph died, our 7th grandchild entered this world. Julia Kate Hall arrived, the 2nd daughter of our only daughter. Most Perkins babies are bald and stay that way for months. This kid has enough hair to wear curlers today. And she is drop-dead gorgeous. Now we know that everyone tells new parents that their baby is beautiful. Even if the kid looks like Joe Biden. But as an impartial (ahem) bystander, I sense that visitors are truly blown away by this kid's looks. In today's parlance, she is smokin' hot. She's already been asked out by two boy babies in the newborn nursery. I'm gonna have to start screening her boyfriends immediately.
So we said good-bye to Ralph, hello to Julia. But it's all good news. Ralph has been freed from a worn-out physical body and been given a new eternal one. We will see him again. Julia arrived less than 24 hours after we gathered around Ralph one last time. Transition. Nothing stays the same, nothing is stagnant. Every day, we are 24 hours closer to our reward. This week served as a poignant reminder to seize the day, live wisely, serve others, and enjoy every minute given us for what it is...a gift from God.