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Why do bad things always seem to happen to the truly GOOD people? This is the question I keep playing over and over in my mind when I think of Uncle Spear and his situation. A couple nights before leaving for Paris we got news that my Uncle Spear (my dad’s brother) has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). ALS, I learned, is a neurodegenerative disease that usually attacks both upper and lower motor neurons and causes degeneration throughout the brain and spinal cord. Basically, from what I can tell, your body shuts down but your brain stays 100% fine.
(This is Uncle Spear wearing the yellow shirt he ALWAYS wears around me just to annoy me because I think it’s sooo ugly!)
I am a person who deals with things in denial so I did my best not to think about it. I pushed it out of my mind. Then when Zach told me he pulled up information on the internet for me to look at and I read it I was devasted. I spent the entire night crying thinking about how horrible it would be to be diagnosed with such a scary disease for which there is no cure. Crying for Aunt Cheryl and how she will have to support him and watch the love of her life go through this. Crying for his children and how horrible it would be if I got news that my father had to face something so difficult. And even crying for myself.
(During our wedding reception roast Uncle Spear poked fun at me, of course, then gave me my favorite shirt of his)
Crying for myself because I love Uncle Spear! I have always adored him and enjoyed our times together. Growing up he lived less than a couple of hours from Dad’s house so we would visit them all the time. He works for Furman University so we’d go to football games together. Or he’d come down to Dad’s to spend time on the lake. And we’d all go to Maine together as well.
Throughout our times together Uncle Spear has always been tough on me. He pokes fun but he also pushes me to do better, to be better. I knew, even though sometimes I let his jokes get the best of me, that he was trying to teach me life lessons and to push me to be the best EMILY I could be. He is the type of man that you hope to find for yourself to marry someday (and didn’t I? I married a true family man, Godly man, and a man filled with humor…all things which Uncle Spear is!) and the type of man that you pray your son grows up to be.
When I sit in my CLEAN house and do my daily little chores I often think of Uncle Spear and how impressed he’d be if he could “see me now.” I used to be such a slob (what teenager isn’t?) and he would always tease me about it. Now I keep a clean house and consider myself a pretty good homemaker! I know I have made him proud and that means so much to me.
Even though it is so difficult for me to think about, I know I have to face what is happening. If I ignore or “deny” that he is going through this then I will be the one to miss out. I’ll miss out on spending precious time together and I’ll miss out on helping him anyway that I can.
I know that Uncle Spear will be here for many, many more years. He will push faaaar past the 3-5 year timeline the doctors have given him. He has always been in incredible shape and has an amazingly optimistic outlook on life. He has a wife who adores him and who he loves with all his heart. He is surrounded by his children and grandchildren who will keep him smiling and help him with everyday things he may need. But more than anything else he is a child of God. He and Aunt Cheryl both love the Lord and I know he will lean on God and his faith through all the trying times ahead.
(Enjoying our yearly New Years Eve dinner at Rudolf’s)
Even though it’s hard to accept that these types of things happen, it is comforting to know that we can handle anything through the Lord. It comforts me knowing that Uncle Spear is NOT alone, that he does have God! Isn’t he so blessed to know God and have that faith? It would be even more sad and more devasting if he didn’t have God and didn’t know that no matter what the future holds the Lord is with him and that he has a home in Heaven.
I’m asking everyone who reads this to please, please pray for Uncle Spear and for his family. Please don’t just pray once, pray as often as you can! This isn’t something that will go away tomorrow or the next day. It’s something that will probably only get tougher and will require us to pray even harder.
There is a man here in Valdosta that the Parker’s know currently living with ALS. I plan to try to contact him and see if there is anything he can offer to help. It’s such a rare thing and maybe he has picked up on something that would be helpful to my uncle. If anyone else knows anything that would be great too as I may not live close to him and not be able to help with the everyday things but I can pray and I can hunt for information that may help!
Zach and I both hope we can make plans to take Kye up to South Carolina for a visit soon and we both feel so blessed to have Uncle Spear as a part of our lives. Even in the short time Zach has gotten to know him he says all the time that Uncle Spear is one of his favorite people in my entire family! We enjoy stopping through on our way to ski and spend a night with him and Aunt Cheryl. I can’t wait to visit them again and spend more time sitting around talking and looking at all the birds together.