One definition of “serve” is: to devote (part of) one’s life or efforts to, as of countries, institutions, or ideas. I’ve had many great examples of service in my life. Growing up in a small town with many relatives was a blessing. Of the 6 great aunts and uncles who lived in Bicknell when I was growing up, those closest to me were my Great Aunt Ginny and Uncle Lloyd. Aunt Ginny passed away in 2010. I just attended the funeral of my Uncle Lloyd a couple of weeks ago. We celebrated 103 years of life with our wonderful Uncle Lloyd!
I can remember before my Aunt Ginny passed a time when we took our son to visit her and Uncle Lloyd so that he could hear some of Uncle Lloyd’s stories from when he served in World War II. Uncle Lloyd was a mailman in the Navy. He wasn’t involved in fighting, but he did hit the beach at Iwo Jima after everything settled down. While stories of intense battles were not told, Uncle Lloyd did share stories of service.
I never knew my Uncle Lloyd as a Navy serviceman, but I did know him as a Great Uncle (and great doesn’t refer to the fact that he is my Mom’s uncle.) He was a man of great character who was kind, giving, and very humorous. I never knew my grandfathers, but I had a great one in Uncle Lloyd. He sought opportunities to spend time with me and I can remember one short road trip to Spencer where he and I memorized all of the small towns between Bicknell and Spencer (Edwardsport, Westphalia, Sandborn, Marco, Beehunter, Lyons, Switz City, Worthington…my memory fades from here.)
Uncle Lloyd was always there for me. Many times I had projects to accomplish and my mother would send me down the street (two blocks) to get help from Uncle Lloyd. Every time I showed up at their back door, both Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Ginny were happy to see me and even happier to help me with my new project. I can remember the times when they provided more than their time. On more than one occasion, Aunt Ginny and Uncle Lloyd would take me and my siblings to Grundman’s Shoes in Vincennes to make sure that we had working shoes on our feet. They even paid for my piano lessons.
While I have many great memories of both my Great Aunt and Uncle, my favorites were those of my Uncle’s humor. Uncle Lloyd always had a joke to share and Aunt Ginny was always a wonderful audience leading us in laughing (even though she had heard the joke a few times already.) I can vividly remember one picnic at my Grandmother’s house (which was two blocks in the other direction from my house) where Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Ginny arrived on their bicycles decorated in crepe paper and balloons. We could see them coming down the street and they were laughing the entire way!
I have been blessed to have many wonderful people in my life to teach me important lessons. When it comes to service, my prime exemplar is my Uncle Lloyd. From serving his country, to serving his family and friends, he is the example of giving of oneself that I strive to come close to each day. You see, Aunt Ginny and Uncle Lloyd never had any children of their own. Their nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews were their children. The stories I told above are only a small sampling of stories about Aunt Ginny and Uncle Lloyd. I have heard the same stories from my mother’s siblings and cousins (my aunts and uncles). With my Grandmother having 7 brothers and sisters, Aunt Ginny and Uncle Lloyd were never short on nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews. As the matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a special decades-long deal with Grundman’s Shoes because I know that my Mother and her cousins took many a trip there with Aunt Ginny and Uncle Lloyd when they were children.
Thanks for letting me ramble a bit about a couple of my exemplars. In a world where people seem to be more self-centered and self-serving, it is good to be reminded of those who have provided so much to so many people.
Deepak Chopra said: “Everyone has a purpose in life…a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.”
Teachers are uniquely blessed in that we get to utilize our talent AND we get to do it while serving others…and we get paid! What a great life we have. While I’ll never reach the level of my Great Uncle Lloyd, I can only hope that there is a student or two out there that I have had that will count me as an exemplar.