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Today we honored the life of my sweet Uncle Jake. You would have to have known him to really understand how truly wonderful he was. Words just can’t describe what it was like to be in his life. I know…because I attempted, and fell short. Below is a letter I wrote on behalf of his nieces and nephews and a video of Garrett reading the letter.

I wish everyone could have a Jake in their life….

Precious Jake,

Our lives were enriched by your gentle, humble strength.
Our world made happier by your corny jokes and more beautiful when we viewed it through the Cornflower blue of your eyes.

Your nieces and nephews were your children and you loved us unconditionally, each of us….and never tried to hide it. None of us escaped your Love Pinches and you would laugh deeply if we tried. Your eyes sparkled with mischief as we tried to run past your chair to avoid a pinch to the arm. Your pinches never hurt, it was just fun to squeal with delight and pretend they did. When we were young, your eyes revealed unspoken words. Later, as you and we grew older, you spoke the words: I love you. Even without the words, we would have known, because love was visibly evident in your eyes.

We learned from you. You were the living example of respect for others. The love and respect you bestowed on your parents, our grandparents, impacted our lives immeasurably.
We could search the world for a hundred years, and never find a heart more pure than yours. Nor a life more full of grace.

There must have been times when your feelings were hurt, or your body heavy with pain. But we never knew, because you never complained. Not once. Forgive us for not knowing.

We’re going to cry for a while Jake, because we love you and we already miss you. But we’re going to smile a lot, because of you. You’ve left us with a love of the mountains, and we’ll see you there, in the blue hues of the Smokies. We’ll remember you and the precision of your pocket-knife; the nimbleness of your hands smoothly peeling an apple… every time we hold a Red Delicious or a Granny Smith. In Autumn, we’ll take a drive to Ellijay, in your honor, and remember you. We’ll stop along the roadside and purchase sacks of apples and roasted peanuts and know you were once there. We’ll eat bananas and hear you ask us, “Do you like bananas?” We’ll silently answer “Yes”. Then we’ll hear you laugh and say, “I never saw a monkey that didn’t!”
Your memory will be cherished Jake, and it will live on.

I will attempt to honor your life, by living mine more simply and graciously.
We’ll Love You Always…and we’ll see you soon.

Garrett reading the letter for Jake: