I stood behind her as she cried, and I cannot describe the feeling I was left with. She had shed no tear until her brother's wife, now a widow, stooped to share a hug with her, then both were overcome with their loss. My Great Aunt Sweetie lost the one man she loved the most, and my Grandmother Keeko lost another of her little brothers. As I watched I realized that these two women, more than anyone else in the room, were probably the most important people in My Great Uncle Sunny's life. Sweetie, of course, had known him best of all, and keeko, had witnessed his life from start to finish; no one else could claim these honors.
I have nothing bad to say about any these people; in my eyes they could be no better. My greatest admiration lies with my Keeko, her brother's, and their wives. Sunny passed away just this last Tuesday, October 2. He was 87. A decorated war veteran, a WW II POW, a family man, a business owner, a Tennesseean through and through - his life was full of living. He has met presidents, he's known starvation, he has known success, he knew how to sacrifice, he showed love, he demonstrated commitment, he has lived through abuse and was willing to share about all of it. Above all he claimed Christ and was not ashamed.
As long as I can remember I have always looked forward to being an old man, sharing my front porch with my old lady wife and sharing the stories of my life. In my mind, every event good or bad, makes a good story with the ulitmate purpose of being told to others down the line. I credit my Great Uncle Sunny and Great Uncle Howard for this - they have been old men my whole life, and I've known no sweeter men. Every time I see Howard, the first thing out of his mouth is; "I'm proud of you Lil' John" and the last is "I love you." Uncle Sunny always called me "John Pierre". I've never been ashamed of my middle name, but I was never prouder of it than when I heard it from Sunny.
Today, I get to witness my first 21 Gun Military Salute, and I am so proud to know the man that earned this honor.