CK Musings: Complicated Relationships- Russ


It doesn’t take a lot to realize that relationships are complicated.  My family recently lost a huge person in our family, George’s dad, Russ.  It was a fairly quick decline and the entire time I was so resistant and totally insistent that his ailment was not what was going to take him down. Afterall, Russ is just too ornery to let something like this happen. Sadly, I could not have been more wrong . . . two weeks later, he was gone. This was the first of our close family members to pass away and it has blindsided all of us.  Yes, he was 85 and lived a full and robust life.  He was actually ready for the afterlife. In 2019 he scripted his funeral arrangements. (While this sounds morbid, it was actually a HUGE help to all of us!) As he had become quite the master carpenter in his later years, he actually built his own coffin. Yes, a coffin, not a casket!  

It has now been a few months since his funeral, aka “Celebration of Life”  and now that we are settling into our ‘new normal’, I have had time to reflect on my complex and personal relationship with my father in law.  

Having always prided myself on my grasp of death and dying, I have been surprised by and sometimes overwhelmed with intense feelings of disbelief that he is gone and will miss him not walking through the door, sitting at the dinner table and playing our piano.  (oh that piano playing, there were so many times, things would be hectic, especially during the holidays and he would just start playing a tune. We would sometimes get agitated at the added noise and chaos. What I wouldn’t give to know that I had it to look forward to this December!)  One of the things I have come to realize is just how intimate and personal mourning is.  You see, I have specific memories of Russ.  Memories that no one else has, whether it was quick eye contact or a nod, a mutual acknowledgement of something between us or even a disagreement we had.  Those are unique to me and feel very intimate in a way that I have never before experienced.   


While our relationship was complicated, looking back, I so appreciate Russ and his quirks!  But one of the most comforting things about his passing was his undying faith and knowledge of Jesus and Heaven.  I struggle most when I realize that he will not be with us any more, but when I slow down long enough to remember that he is up in Heaven, watching over all of us, it gives me such comfort and even makes me smile.  Afterall, I will certainly miss his piano playing, his wisdom and yes, even his argumentative nature, but I know he is right where he wants to be . . . watching over his entire family.  Cheers to you Russell James Kirk!  To a life well lived . . . . .

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