Friday, July 13, 2012
About 24 hours after my last post we said goodbye to my father-in-law. Charlie Eder was one of seven boys who grew up in Chicago, moved out to the suburbs around 1960 with his lovely wife and produced four boys of his own, the youngest of which I am blessed to call my husband.
Four months shy of his 82nd birthday seems too soon to take leave. But it was a long nine months for Charlie after a second brain surgery in less than a year and a series of setbacks and complications. On Tuesday evening I sat alone with him for a brief time in what were to be the final hours of his life and read Scripture. It was one of the greatest blessings and honors of my life. I read Psalms 70 & 71, some verses from Romans and Ephesians and I prayed for this man whom I've known and loved for 28 years. He waited for his family to return to the room before passing on and went peacefully and gracefully, as was his way.
There are many things said at wakes to offer comfort to the mourning, but what a joy it was this evening to hear so many echo the virtue of this man and the legacy he has left behind.
One of the first passages in the Bible my kids became familiar with is found in Galatians Chapter Five, verses 22-23. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
I've heard many sermons preached on this passage. Most will agree that while those who have the Holy Spirit have at least some measure of each of these fruits, you will find some more pronounced than others.
Charlie exhibited them all.
He loved his family, especially his bride, who after 54 years of marriage he still thought of as his bride, often boasting he married the best girl in the whole world. And he loved his sons, and their wives and oh my, did he love his grandchildren. He traipsed around to ball games and recitals, birthday parties and concerts, communions and graduations. I remember when Ryan was playing baseball and the kids had just started pitching. It was a walkfest. There was one game when the score was 24-22 in the fourth and Charlie started offering $5 bills for strikes. But he stayed and watched the rest of the game.
He took great joy in the simple things. He loved maps. Dilly Bars from DQ brought him tremendous pleasure and one of his granddaughters who worked there was happy to oblige. He had a silly sense of humor that made even the bad jokes seem entertaining. He smiled and laughed often.
As far as it depended on him, to the best of his ability, he lived at peace with others (Romans 12:18) and by God's grace he died peacefully in a room surrounded by family.
His patience had no rival. I know no one who persevered, held his tongue, or put away anger better or longer than Charlie.
His kindness and his goodness were so consistent and so widespread that I don't think we will ever stop hearing stories of them.
The faithful are a dying breed in our age and society. Few are loyal to much of anything anymore. Charlie worked for Motorola for 35 years, resided in one home in Elk Grove Village and served in his local parish for more than 50 years, cherished Bernie well over five decades of marriage, and rooted for the White Sox and Notre Dame till his final days.
The opening lines of his obituary were borrowed, but every bit descriptive of Charlie: He was a gentle man and a gentleman... No word was used more frequently to describe him than gentle. Which is not to say he wasn't strong, but like Christ, one who used his strength to serve.
He had a great deal of self-control. In a culture of self-indulgence he was willing to sacrifice. In a room of rash words, he often wisely remained silent.
What a legacy he has left behind to the many friends and family who will miss him deeply.
"The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever;"