Daffodils always remind me of Uncle David. Easter always reminds me of daffodils. When I was about 4 or 5, Uncle David gave me a beautiful book of poetry (it had daffodils on the front and lots of pictures of beautiful flowers). I was trying to learn to read at that point, sitting on the couch, when I asked my Mom, “What is d-o-g spelled backwards?” She told me that was God. I knew this was significant.
It’s even more significant that Uncle David is thus directly tied in my little kid brain to finding out about God. Uncle David was not on everyone’s A list. He was, in the terms of the day, “slow” or “different” (not dumb, just not quite functioning at the mental complexity his particular decade and community preferred. He had gotten in some pretty awful spots when someone misunderstood his assessment of different situations (think “padded room”). Uncle David spent a good part of his later life shuttled off to a halfway house on Capital Hill in Seattle. Some of the relatives breathed a sigh of relief, and except for coming to the island to pick blackberries and thimbleberries and huckleberries once a year so I could make him a pie, we didn’t see much of him for quite a while.
Uncle David died quietly at home. A funeral was planned for our little community, with some folks figuring immediate family would be the only ones who showed up. Boy, were we surprised! From David’s delightfully diverse community, carloads of people came to our small town and filled the funeral home. After the formal part of the service was over, someone from the back spoke up and said, “We would like to say something…..” The minister let her come to the microphone. One by one, a parade of people came forward to speak about how David’s simple ability to love and encourage those around him, to do practical things, to serve, to help in any way he could had blessed their lives over and over again. We sat their dumbfounded, humbled and incredibly grateful for the profound lesson unfolding in front of us. God, in typical fashion, chose the humble of the world to teach us that his ways aren’t our ways. That we had missed the point entirely by talking more than we listened. That there had been much to learn from a humble man with no guile who sought to love his community. I am grateful each Easter, especially, as I think of the lessons Uncle David gave me on living in the grace of God.