Care “Bear”

One day in August of 2000, the phone rang. Shortly after Mamaw Ruth answered it, she started crying. Her brother, my Uncle Kenny, had a stroke while he was at work and was taken to Norton Audubon Hospital.

At first, the doctors were uncertain that Uncle Kenny would survive because of the amount of damage that the stroke had done to his brain. Many people came to the hospital to pray for God to save him. We all prayed often for Uncle Kenny.

God answered our prayers, and Uncle Kenny began to slowly improve. He eventually improved enough to be moved into his own room. Uncle Kenny spent a few weeks at Audubon Hospital before he was sent to rehab for one hundred days. Uncle Kenny went home the day before Thanksgiving of 2000.

The right side of Uncle Kenny’s body was left partially paralyzed. He is able to walk short distances with a cane and assistance from another person, but he uses a wheelchair to travel long distances. He has no use of his right arm. He’s unable to read, and can speak only a few words.

So God saved Uncle Kenny, but He didn’t completely heal him. We don’t know the exact reason, or reasons, why. But God does know why, and He knows that it’s for the best.

A hard worker

Uncle Kenny was a big and strong man. He was also a hard worker. Uncle Kenny is now happily married to Mary but has three sons and a daughter from his previous marriage to Barbara, who passed away in January of 1978. Timmy, Brenda (most of the family calls her “Susan”), Gary, and Danny are all either big men like Uncle Kenny, or hard workers.

(Disclosure: Susan is far from being a big woman, but she is a hard worker.)

Uncle Kenny liked to restore old cars. The one and only car that I’ve been told about is the white 1967 Ford Mustang that he overhauled for Aunt Becky. An unfortunate accident occurred that caused the engine to lock up, so Aunt Becky sold it for one-hundred-dollars and bought a Mercury Cougar. I’ve asked many times to have this story repeated to me. Why I subject myself to this kind of torture, I’ll never know.

Uncle Kenny also liked remodeling, and his big beautiful house shows it. Aunt Mary also has a great eye for decorating homes. I’ve always loved to visit Uncle Kenny & Aunt Mary whenever they had family get-togethers, especially around Christmastime. Aunt Mary always has many things of interest to discuss, especially if it involves a house. Uncle Kenny was always joking and laughing. He can still joke, and can definitely laugh. It’s the way that they brought the family together that I enjoy the most.

Before Uncle Kenny had his stroke, he worked for Cisco Heating & Air Conditioning, making and installing air ducts in commercial buildings. The guys that Uncle Kenny worked with had nicknamed him “Bear” because of his big size, as well as his big heart.

A big, shiny hammer and an old, rusty saw

But restoring old cars, remodeling houses, and making and installing air ducts is what Uncle Kenny did, not who he is. Uncle Kenny is a devout Christian who was always more than willing to lend a helping hand, such as cutting the grass at his church. Uncle Kenny was a big, shiny hammer on God’s workbench.

But Uncle Kenny also knew that there are times when, not a big and strong body, but maybe a few gentle words would be enough to help someone.

Before Dad’s biological dad, Herbie, came to Dad’s funeral. Melissa and I hadn’t seen him in years. We weren’t even sure that he was alive.

Uncle Kenny eventually felt led to take me and Melissa aside, and tell us, “You all should show some class and talk to your Papaw Herbie. He and your Mamaw Ruth didn’t get along, but he’s a good man.”

The way I now see it, God used Uncle Kenny say to me and Melissa, “Get rid of of your stupid and petty issues with your Papaw Herbie. Love one another as my Son commanded you to do.”

Two things:

1) As we grow older, our bodies begin to wear out. Our skin loses its firmness. Our muscles lose their strength. Our bones get thinner and are prone to breakage. Many things change about our bodies, and not likely for the better. So even if your body starts out big and strong, there’s no guarantee that it’ll remain big and strong.

2) God could always use a big, shiny hammer, but every once in a while, He’ll need an old rusty saw. God’s favorite way to display His Glory is to display it through what the world considers weak.

Again, we don’t know the exact reason, or reasons, that God didn’t completely heal Uncle Kenny. But for now, maybe we can simply say that God’s big, shiny hammer was beginning to wear out and He needed to add an old, rusty saw to His workbench?


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