My dad had three brothers, my Uncles Jim, John, and Bert. I have many fond memories of spending time with all of them. One memory of my Uncle John stands out.
My dad and I planned a backpacking trip to the west side of the Sierra Nevada Mts. in California. I was probably 10 years old give or take a year. We drove up from Escondido where I grew up to the LA area to pick up my Uncle John. He was an optometrist and lived in the LA area with my Aunt Gail and my cousins Carrie, Heather, and Laura. We got to the house and we helped Uncle John load his backpack into our car. I was so excited. He then handed me a present. It was some sort of radio/cb receiver that ran on batteries. I was doubly excited. All the way up the four hours or so to the trail head I was in adolescent heaven listening to the truckers. Thanks for the memories Uncle John.
We made it to the trail head. It was a 9 mile hike in to our campsite along the middle fork of the Kaweah River. For a 10 year old boy who absolutely loved the outdoors, I was in heaven. I had my 10 year old boy backpack which consisted of a day pack with a few items in it which weighed about 10-15 pounds. My dad and Uncle John’s packs probably weighed 50-60 pounds. Guess who was huffing and puffing a mile or so in? Yup, moi. It felt like my backpack weighed 100 pounds! I didn’t think I could make it. My dad and Uncle John kept encouraging me that I could do it to keep on moving and don’t quit. I still felt like I was gonna be pushing daisies any minute but alas, we finally made it to our destination, Buck Creek which is a tributary of the middle fork of the Kaweah. What an absolutely gorgeous spot. I find it hard to believe that creation is tainted by sin. I know it is because the Bible says it is but . . . I can’t fathom how much better the new heavens and new earth are going to be, not after all the camping and backpack trips out west with my family and seeing how breathtakingly gorgeous Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Devils Postpile, Death Valley, McGee Creek (backpacked there with my good friend Scott Lybarger over 30 years ago – that is an adventure story all to itself), Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Mt. Hood, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Whitney, Arches Nat. Mon., Ouray, CO, etc. I just can’t fathom greater, more perfect beauty, but its coming soon. I can’t wait.
We fished for a couple of days and then began the the return trip. This time I was smoking. I actually made it in without dying so mentally I toughened up and knew I was going to be fine hiking out. It was a blast.
My Uncle John passed away several years ago I believe from kidney failure complications. Years earlier my dad had donated his kidney to my Uncle John and gave him 15-20 extra years to live and love his family and the community in which he lived. You see, my Uncle John was centered – centered by his love for his family, his community, and especially by his love for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I will never forget you Uncle John. Thanks for the memories.