Saturday, July 4, 2009

Uncle Arnold

When I was a little girl, I was scared of you. You had a giant comb-over that blew in the wind, and you spoke funny. I hardly ever saw you, but I absolutely adored your wife, Ada. Ada was the best. She had kind, blue eyes, and long white hair. Gently, she smiled at me and beckoned me to climb on her lap. She spoke funny, too, but it didn’t matter. Sadly Ada’s kidneys gave out on her, and shortly after we made a long journey to Norway to see her when I was twelve, she passed away.

I called you when I was studying abroad, in Norway, at age nineteen. I was nervous to talk to you, because you were a fiery Pentecostal evangelist—what I envisioned my grandfather to be like. You were very pleasant, and so was your new wife, Gunvor. I didn’t get to see you then, but I grew less afraid and more curious.

You are my mom’s oldest brother. When my mom’s body gave out on her two years ago, I was left with a need to connect with everyone that knew her. Over the next year and a half, my husband and I planned journeys to go visit relatives and friends that were close enough to check in with. Most of all, I needed to see my mom’s homeland, Norway. I contacted you, Uncle Arnold, so we could meet up. You insisted we stay with you, in your small apartment in Bergen.

So we came. On the wall in your bedroom was a picture of my mom, standing next to you and your dad. She couldn’t have been older than sixteen. I had never seen it before. You were so kind, gentle, and loving—exactly as Ada had been to me as a girl, and as my mom had been to me my whole life. I am proud to call you Uncle, and I am honored to be related to you, who are so passionate in your love for people, and most of all, your love for Christ.

Your comb over is gone, and your new companion, Gunvor, is filled with joy and giving. My husband and I have never had more ice cream in our lives, and we would eat gallons more if it meant that we could see you and G again soon. I don’t know who has changed more on this journey—me or you—but I am thankful when I hear your funny voice on my answering machine, the voice of my Norwegian Uncle that I adore.

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