Tonight, in far away Michigan, my precious Daddy’s twin brother, Luke Yoder, passed over into Eternal Life. We knew that it was going to happen. Those who march to the drummer of lou gehrig’s disease are not known for escaping his insidious clutches. Tonight the disease claimed another body, but it didn’t/couldn’t claim the spirit. Those who knew and loved him know for certain that he is home free. With his papa and mama, with his brother John, his sister, Ruth, a growing number of in-laws already there, a baby sister he never knew, and his twin brother, Mark.
Memories are wonderful things. They crowd into your mind at the strangest time and divert attention needed somewhere else. They hover at the back of your consciousness and influence moods and choices and actions. They climb into bed with you on cold nights and warm the coldest hearts. They ride in the car, and raise their heads at places where you learn to finally expect them — parking lot at church, Philadelphia Zoo signs along the interstate, and always, always, a small graveyard beside an aging brick church along a Delaware road.
Memories are running wild through my head tonight. I remember that when we were little children, we knew that, even though our Daddy dearly loved his large array of brothers and sisters, that there was something special about Uncle Luke. He would write letters to him, and Uncle Luke wrote back. His large, distinctively impressive handwriting would nearly fill the front of a regular sized envelope. In the early years, it was rare for them to talk on the telephone, but I remember that there were special occasions when there were phone calls made. One Christmas eve, in particular, I remember. It was before we remodeled the old farm house, so it almost had to be the Christmas of 1957. It seemed like a wonderful Christmas to all of us. Clint (7) and Nel (5) got this hen with a target on her side with a set of dart guns. When you hit the target with the dart, she would lay an egg. I was four and I got a rubber doll. I forget what Markie got. He was 18 months. We sat on the floor of that old living room and life couldn’t have been better. I remember Daddy suddenly deciding to call Uncle Luke and while I certainly don’t remember any of the conversation, it seems that it was at that moment that I realized that there was this special person who was so important to my daddy who lived far away and his name was “Uncle Luke.”
He has been an asset to almost everything he has endeavored to be involved in. He has benefitted his family, his church, his community, the larger church through his conference, and through many unknown avenues, the world. He was an encourager, a manager, a minister, and a friend to many in addition to being a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a cousin, etc. The ripples go on and on, and we will not know until eternity where they have left their mark. As an extended family, we have been prodded, encouraged, amused and sobered by his frequent missives to our family forum, the Yodelings. He would end his words to us with the same admonition almost every time, “Make it a good day.”
His family has had a tough six months. There have been hard decisions, difficult things to do, heartbreaking declines that they witnessed and they have hung in there and they have also finished strong. They were there tonight when he went gently, quietly into the presence of the Lord he loved so much.
He had fought a good fight.
He had finished the course.
He had kept the faith.
“Well done, Good and Faithful Servant.”
If only I could see where he is tonight . . .