Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Reflections on death

Two men I know died last weekend. Both of them named Bill. The first one had lived a long, full life, and lost his wife a few months ago. The email that told me about his death spoke of rejoicing in heaven because it was very evident that this Bill had a relationship with God. There are a lot of good stories about him- even the serious ones involving lots of humor. I sent this story to his daughter.
I have such vivid memories of your Dad and his pocket knife trick. Your parents lived in Bogota, but he would often come out to where we lived in the country. Anytime he came to our house for a visit, we demanded that he do his tricks for us. And, eyes sparkling, he would. We'd cluster around, staring intently, as he showed us a black knife and a white knife. Then he'd put it the black one in his left pocket and the white one in his right pocket. But, when he reached into the left pocket, he'd pull out the white knife. He had a variety of tricks like this, and we would coax him through his repertoire. I wish I could remember all of them now. What I remember is that kids were important to him. He wasn't just a guy who worked with our parents, but someone who cared to entertain us. He was Uncle Bill Nyman- magician extraordinaire! Last time I saw him I was a grownup. But I still wanted to see those knife tricks.
The other Bill, Billy, was probably 20 years younger, and his death appears to have been his choice. Billy was another fun person to be around, and he made me feel welcome when I first moved to Dallas. But he battled a lot of demons, and his death doesn't have the hope that is evident in Uncle Bill Nyman's.
I was thinking about the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus loves both of these Bill's. But only one seemed to know about it. I hope Billy did, too.

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