Church mouse: chemistry of family and faith

Memorial Day turns thoughts to family and faith. Kate Josephson/Contributor

My uncle was a college professor. He’d also served in the Navy. 
Some of my earliest memories of him were watching him come down the steps of a small plane at the municipal airport when he would fly back to visit his elderly parents. 
When there would be a discussion at my grandparents’ place about how my brothers and I were doing on our various musical instruments, I remember him saying that the only thing he ever played on was “the linoleum.” Reading some old letters though it would seem he one time nearly brought down the house at a 4-H show with a stirring rendition of something or other on a kazoo.
One time Mom, my brothers and I rode back to Milwaukee with him in his car. He showed us a good time. We went out for multiple huge hamburgers, plus he performed a rudimentary demonstration on blowing glass in his chemistry lab. 
When I was typing up Mom’s obituary after an all-nighter by her bedside I remember thinking this is the part in her life story where I could mention her younger brother by name, or I could just leave it out thinking his name would appear behind some stylish dots in a stately listing inside the funeral folder. There was no such listing. I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking. 
Regardless, I remember the pastor commenting rather abruptly at the visitation just prior to the funeral service that I had “left him out … .” I somewhat frantically looked at the little piece of paper in my hand and assured him that it “wasn’t intentional.” 
I’m generally not too concerned about God forgiving me for the things I do wrong, but sometimes I worry about hurting other people’s feelings. Mom warned me about this sort of thing. 
The guilt may have partly motivated me to go visit my uncle more times than I might otherwise have done. My husband and I appreciated getting a little more familiar with his lifestyle, including, after we’d gone to church with him, meeting a member of his ROMEOs group — Retired Old Men Eating Out. 
The last time I saw him, he’d just been seated in the dining room of his assisted living place, which that day actually in the chapel. (There may have been some larger group in the dining room.)
But I recall him glancing up before delving into his plate of food as I was stepping over the threshold on my way out and seeing the faint glow of stained glass filling in the background with an ethereal sense of illumination. 

Kate Josephson worked as a church secretary in Red Wing. She seeks out religious experiences wherever she goes.

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