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Losing Family Members is Something You Don't Get Over

By Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Don Wilson, my uncle died this week. My dad, Jim, his brother John, their cousin Bud Kelley, Duck and niece Jane.

My father’s youngest brother, he is strong in all my memories of extended family from my earliest days. We had Sunday lunch at my grandmothers every week throughout my childhood, and when I was young he and my Aunt Pat, who died last year, lived with my grandparents on the farm in the Bishop Branch Community in Anderson County. 

When they moved out, it was to a high hill across the pasture from the family farm, and it was there they raised my cousins Perry, Kathy and Tim, all of whom I spent a lot of time with growing up. Their dad, known only to the family as “Duck” (due to a childhood incident when he was chased from the pond by ducks, not because of the cartoon character), was gentle, kind and shared a wry smile with my dad whenever minor mischief crossed his mind.

He and my dad remained close their entire lives, talking every day on the phone, before my father’s sudden passing last spring only a few short weeks after the long-suffering passing of my Aunt Pat. 

I am not sure my uncle ever got over the grief of losing his wife, whose graveside he was still visiting often until his recent illness. They were very close, and her extended health struggles were hard on him and their children who helped out constantly during those days. They could not have wished for better.  

Then, on the heels of that loss, the death of my father - his closest sibling and last living brother - was another hard hit. He has already lost two brothers and a sister.

Don was also extraordinarily proud of his three children. He talked about them all the time throughout their adult years in a way that many parents reserve for their pride during the childhod years.

A series of unresolved health issues ensued in the year that followed, as his children - especially his daughter Kathy - took him to a seemingly endless series of medical appointments. tests and followups. The medical professionals never really resolved his dizzy spells, and other ailments. So, he passed away at home during the early morning hours this past Sunday. 

He will be missed and remembered by all of us in the family and by the many friends he made over his eight decades. The youngest of six, he is survived by only one sister, Hilda, who turned 92 this week.

Many have shown up to pay tribute to Don and their respects to the family, and that is appreciated and continues to be welcome.

But once the platitudes are over and well wishers have gone home, the real grieving begins. Loss of this kind is not something any of us ever really gets over. So please pray for the Wilson family in the days ahead. Losing so many members of the family does not mean we will forget them, but it does mean we have lost something in our lives.

And if you still are among the fortunate who still has one or both parents alive and in your life, take a little time of gratitude for that as well this week.

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