They say only the good die young, and now I’m certain it’s true.
Wednesday, I received the devastating news that my Uncle Chuck died during a freak accident at work. He wasn’t even 50. He was a strong, resilient dude with a stronger faith than anyone else I know.
I broke the news to Grandma Cindy (his mom). Uncle Doug broke the news to Grandpa Steve (his dad) and stepmom, Alice, who had also been in Chuck’s life for decades. Of course it was heartbreaking. Parents should not outlive their children.
Before we get too far, Mom asked I include the funeral arrangement and details.
Saturday, August 5
Family 3-4 p.m.
Public 4-8 p.m.
Morse Mill Baptist Church
6955 State Rd. B
Dittmer, MO 63023
Sunday, August 6
Chapel Hill Mortuary
6300 Hwy 30
Cedar Hill, MO 63016
Laid to rest at Chapel Hill.
In lieu of flowers, please send any donations to Morse Mill Youth Department, where Uncle Chuck was a Youth Group Leader and Music Director:
6955 State Rd. B
Dittmer, MO 63023
And since Uncle Chuck inherited Grandma’s silly side — you’re not gonna see many serious pictures in this post. He’d probably like it better this way, anyway.
Those feelings of “this is unfair” start to creep up. He still had so many lives left to touch. I wanted his great nieces to know this zany, fun-loving guy like I did growing up.
Although, at least they got a taste. He even took my oldest Lily out for a spin on his Harley a few times. She just loved him!
(He had just gotten off work in these pictures, don’t judge his appearance! Haha).
But, as Uncle Chuck said to me many, many times: “You never know when the good Lord is gonna take ya.” Words I used to roll my eyes at, now bring me comfort.
He was ready to go “home” at any time. He lived every day to the fullest.
Since my family and I moved to St. Louis, we got to see Uncle Chuck more. Below, he came to one of our weekly family nights where we do a craft. He was trying to do a portrait of Grandma Cindy … He made fun of it himself!
I even heard him to that belly laugh (I loved it) while looking at his picture. He really was trying … it was sad! 🙂
Uncle Chuck was the middle child. He had one younger brother and one older sister.
Below, from left to right — Uncle Chuck, Grandpa Steve (his Dad), Lisa Hader (his sister, my mom), Uncle Doug, (his brother).
While reflecting at the dining room table Thursday morning, Grandma Cindy was talking about a memory of little 2-year-old Chuck.
He was playing out in the back of their then house in brown cowboy boots (had to have them) and some red shorts. She asked him if he had to potty — and he said no (’cause he’d already used his pants for that).
Grandma had a good chuckle while reflecting on that moment.
He never did outgrow wearin’ boots, either.
Uncle Chuck was also the best “car driver.” When I was little (below), he would scoop me up in his arms like this, and then make car noises and “drive” me around. I remember it was seriously so much fun!
I am glad he was able to do it with Lily and Luna, too.
My mom was thinking back on the last time she and Uncle Chuck got to hang out — it was on Father’s Day. She, Uncle Doug, and Uncle Chuck spent the day with Grandpa, and then the three siblings all went to their childhood ice cream shoppe in Dittmer. Chuck bought — and they spent an hour reminiscing and talking.
And just a few weeks ago, Uncle Doug went over to Uncle Chuck’s for his weekly pingpong get-together (Uncle Chuck was always asking me when I was gonna get a pingpong table at my house, too) — the very last game, Uncle Chuck jokingly said: “This one is for it all! I’ll will you everything I own if you win!”
Of course he was joking. But, Uncle Doug won.
And then we found out Uncle Chuck actually did make Uncle Doug a beneficiary.
He was young. Healthy. Jovial. An active member of his church. A role-model (although he’d tell you he wasn’t). He overcame a lot in his life. He really turned it around for the better, and found a community that welcomed him with open arms, despite his past. The people at Morse Mill Baptist Church knew he turned his life around.
It was through this church that he met his second mom, Lucille.
These two were attached at the hip. When I first started my photography business and was nervous before shooting my first wedding — it was Lucille, a veteran photographer, who I called.
Earlier this morning, mom was on the phone with Lucille, and was recounting another funny story of Uncle Chuck.
He had just won first place in a karate competition — and came running down the hill to where his family was. They all thought it was because he was so excited to show off the trophy, but then they all realized he had tears in his eyes.
He was crying because he got kicked in the head, not because he was so excited he won. Everyone laughed.
I am guessing Grandma Cindy took this picture, because she still has the bad habit of cutting off the top of people’s heads in photos. 🙂
Growing up, Uncle Chuck almost left us much earlier. He was around 9-10, and his parents thought he had come down with the flu. He was sick for a few days, and then one day he said he suddenly felt much better.
But the next day, he was even sicker than before, so Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Steve took him into the hospital. His appendix had burst!
It was then that the doctors told his parents he had a high tolerance for pain.
Thankfully, he was saved from the appendix fiasco — and we had many, many years of happy memories left with him.
He was also on the cusp of death many times after. From a motorcycle wreck, a truck wreck (he died a few times on the way to the hospital), falling out of a tree, a fungus from some water he got into … but each time he bounced back.
But, in Uncle Chuck’s own words: “You never know when the good Lord is gonna take ya.”
So, today, I am giving you that title you and Uncle Doug fought over for years — “Favorite Uncle.”
I hope you get to wear a “favorite Uncle” crown up in Heaven. I love you!