Got the call we expected last night at 11:30. Uncle Ken passed away.
I had written a post yesterday about one last comic gag he pulled along with a couple of anecdotes showing his sense of humor, but somehow...it just did not feel right and, while I kept it as a draft, it is unlikely I will ever actually post it.
He definitely had the Barton sense of humor, on the one hand, but he also had a very generous heart.
I remember back in the late 70s when it was sometimes a struggle to have food on the table when at the extended family Christmas, both Sue and I got surprisingly large boxes which had a mix of toys we could never have afforded and necessities we were pretty short on.
I was not supposed to know where these things came from but I did learn that Uncle ken and Uncle Bruce were a large portion of the driving force behind it.
Two men, I might had, who were both tragically taken from us too soon.
It was not the only deeply generous thing he did but he had a way of doing things from behind the scenes.
He was a real bulwark of strength in caring for Grandma the last few years when many portions of the family were unable to help either physically or financially. Without his efforts she would not have been able to stay at home right up until the very end.
There were many things like this he did that were hidden from view that most people did not know about.
But his direct family knew. The people he helped felt his helping hand even if they did not know the source.
With all that said, it is not as heart-breaking for me that he died so soon as it was when say...B. N., the proudly atheistic assistant manager where I used to work did.
The reason is simple and clear.
Uncle Ken was a firm believer in God who did everything he could to follow the Scriptural precepts as he understood them.
I am not God and do not know everything but I certainly have a hope that Ken's eternal rest will be in the promised land and that makes his passing easier to deal with than that of someone who, if I understand Scripture correctly, has a much less pleasant eternity ahead of him.
Not that I am happy Ken had to leave so soon...I grieve on many levels. But those levels of grief are for those left behind...his wife, his three daughters, any children they are later blessed with, his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends.
These next few years are going to be pretty rough. Grandpa and Grandma Barton had 9 kids. One died in the 70s. Grandma and two of her children have died in the last calendar year and several others are aging rapidly.
On the one hand, it is a blessing to know so many people of such fine character. On the other...it would be easier if they were much less likable.
Much love and gratitude to Uncle Ken for the things he did in his life, both known and unknown, and best wishes and prayers for those closest to him in this time of grief.
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