Last Thursday we buried Kack. Despite being one of the most difficult things I've done as an adult, it was a really good couple of days.
Kack was a pretty amazing person. He and my grandmother married 64 years ago and had a wonderful daughter (my mom). We had the privilege of spending most of our growing years living across the street from Gram & Kack. On Wednesdays after piano lessons, we'd go to their house for dinner, and on Sundays after church, we would go there for waffles. My kids still love to visit their house for waffles whenever we go up for a weekend. On Fridays, we would usually go out to dinner as an extended family, frequently to Ponderosa. Then we would go to our house to watch Webster or The Dukes of Hazard. One of my greatest wishes was to be able to buy Kack a big old Caddy like the one Boss Hogg drove on the show!
Our family did lots of things with Gram & Kack. We went on vacation to Disney World and Niagra Falls. Really, most of my memories from my younger years include Kack in them. He and Gram had wanted a big family (he had 4 brothers and 5 sisters), but with his only daughter, he doted on the three of us. When the great-grandchildren came along, they were also well loved. Our oldest son James is named in part for Kack. I'm quite certain that when we had the ultrasound that determined that we were having a son (the first one in a few generations on my mom's side), Kack was the first person we called with the news.
One of the things we laughed about over the week (and we laughed a lot!) was all of the names that he gave everyone. When people came through the receiving line at the funeral home, most would identify themselves by their real name, and then by the name that Kack had given them. Not all were very complimentary, but nonetheless, Kack never shied away from meeting someone new and getting to know them well enough to at least give a nickname!
The other thing that we laughed about were his hats! Because he was a coal miner and then a contractor, he had hats galore. The kids all took one as a reminder of Kack, and later, when Jason took the kids home, those of us that stayed went to Grams and got out ALL of his hats. When we counted them all, it came out right around 150 hats! We were all absolutely exhausted from laughing! Gram said that he never let her throw away any of them, and it was really obvious when we went through them all!
It seems like Kack's death was a good one. He was on the phone laughing with a good friend, in his home with Gram & Molly (his beautiful Cocker Spaniel), and it seems as if he just...died. My parents said that he didn't seem to be in any pain. Certainly, I wish he could have been around for years and years more, but with all that he was going through with pain from dialysis and an upcoming surgery, I am thankful that he was taken peacefully.
Best of all, Kack left a grand legacy behind him. He loved Jesus. Gram told me stories of how he stood up for right in his church, even when it would have been easier to go along with the prevailing opinion. His desire to serve Christ by serving man was evident through all of his years -- I don't think any of us that knew him went untouched by that desire. I'm sure that it has heavily influenced our family. My mom has gone on to be a missionary, even when it's been difficult for her. My sisters and I all believe in helping those less fortunate, both in foreign countries and right here in our own neighborhoods. We had a strong example of living unselfishly and I hope that we're able to pass that on to our own families.
I will deeply miss visiting with Kack. Sitting around shooting the breeze about politics (Jason and I were probably the only two in the family who agreed with him!). Hearing silly jokes. Sharing stories about his trips around the globe. Watching him give the kids a little extra syrup on their waffles. But I know that he is in a much, much better place, and I know that the time until we get to sit down at a way bigger table than Gram's is coming sooner than I know.
May God be glorified!