I've been a.w.o.l. from the blogging world for a while. Not because there hasn't been anything to blog about but I just haven't made the time to sit down and write.
A short time ago, my Uncle Bob passed away from complications from ALS. That is an ugly disease. It takes your dignity as well as your physical abilities.
Uncle Bob spent a lot of time at my Grandma Rufenacht's, especially in the summers, and I have some great memories of him. He was one of the good guys. One of those people who was kind to others. He always had a smile and encouraging words for you and he always seemed genuinely glad to see you. When you spoke to him he made you feel like you were the only one in the room and every word you were saying was important.
He was also one of those people that went out of his way to be there for others. When my mom was Old Settlers queen, he drove 5 hours to be there for a one hour visit. When my mom turned 80 years old he surprised her by again driving the five hours to get there. That's just how he was. He always made time for friends and family.
It was at my mom's 80th birthday that I saw him last and at that time he hadn't been diagnosed with ALS yet but he had been battling some unexplained physical problems, one of which was a partial paralysis of the face which made if very difficult for him to speak. That didn't deter him though. He brought along a tablet and pencil so he could communicate with others while he was there. At one point, he and I stepped outside and 'talked' about everything that was happening to him and he began to cry. It just broke my heart to see him so sad. He has so much life and laughter inside and could no longer speak to share it with others. Shortly after that, he was officially diagnosed with ALS and his health deteriorated quickly. In true fashion, he battled back until he simply couldn't fight it any longer.
The last couple years the ALS ice bucket challenge has been very popular and millions of people have taken part in it but very few have honestly given much thought into the actual disease of ALS. It's one of those things that you don't focus on until it affects you or someone you know.
As I was driving home from his funeral in Wyoming, I told myself that I would do better at staying in touch with friends and family and not wait until a funeral to see them. And I realized that Uncle Bob didn't take one day for granted and he had his priorities right all along.