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When Susie was a toddler, she didn’t understand relationships and kept calling her grandfather, “Unkly Chili.” Ever since, no matter what the relationship was, people always called him Uncle Charlie.
When he turned ninety, Susie brought a birthday cake arranged in three tiers, each with thirty candles. She came with her husband, two sons, and three of her grandchildren. Not everyone from the family was there, but when they sat for dinner, every seat in the house was filled—from the dining room to the tray tables in the den to the coffee table in the living room. The Uncle Charlie stories brought laughter, even though they’d heard them many times—like when he called the police about his stolen car because he forgot he had parked on the street.
After three attempts at blowing out the candles, while the smoke still lingered in the air, Charlie said, “You know, this Christmas, I’ll be leaving.”
“Really?” Susie said. “You just came back from a cruise. Where are you going this time?”
“Where I’ve been planning to go for most of my life. I’ll see all the friends and family I haven’t seen in so long.” He paused, obviously choked with emotion. “I get to see my very best friend. I’m going to Heaven.”
That was Uncle Charlie, a bit too religious. His crazy ideas about God’s sovereignty and perfect plan didn’t always fit with reality. But he was always fun to be around. Everybody looked at him and chuckled, knowing he couldn’t be serious.
Christmas day began with breakfast, a family tradition. William, his sole surviving son, didn’t like eggs, but he ate them that morning, along with the bacon, French toast, and fruit salad. The great-grandkids wasted no time cleaning their plates, because the gift exchange came next—another family tradition. Everybody brought one gift of something they made or bought at a garage sale. It had to be something they would really want for themselves. Each opened present could be exchanged three times. In the end, everyone had a treasured memory.
“Where’s your gift?” Susie asked Uncle Charlie.
“My gift,” he said, “is to have everyone together this one last time.” He leaned back in his recliner and closed his eyes.
The visiting stopped. Susie thought she heard chimes. William felt the ground quake. Trae felt it too, and heard thunder. Janet heard singing in the distance. Everyone looked to see what was happening outside. When they looked back, Uncle Charlie was gone.
The recliner was empty.
Enoch had a daily walk with God, and then he disappeared from Earth to be with God all the time. — Genesis 5:24