In addition to our annual Independence Day/family reunion in Pittsburgh this weekend, we celebrated the life of my brother Joe who passed away last month after a valiant battle with colon cancer. Since I am the youngest of seven children and separated from Joe by 19 years, I don't have many childhood memories to recall. Despite our lack of time together, Joe played a significant role in my spiritual development.
The most lasting impression my brother made occurred while we were living in upstate New York. My father was in the hospital getting his pacemaker installed and I went to visit him with my brothers. To make the trip to Pittsburgh, I met up with Joe and Dan (my eldest brother) at Joe's house in New Jersey. During the return trip, Joe, with his usual boldness in Christ, began talking to Dan about following Christ. I can't say whether that conversation had any impact on Dan, but it certainly had an impact on me. I had no previous exposure to someone so certain of their salvation before and the Truth of The Cross. I do not recall the specifics of our conversation, but I know it was one of those moments where I reflected on my own beliefs. Joe himself had suffered from a heart condition, enduring multiple surgeries, ultimately resulting in a heart transplant. That was decades ago, but his optimism never faltered. Joe was very caring, calling often to “check in'' and he always took interest in what me and my family were doing. I can’t say that we were close, but that wasn’t for lack of effort on his part. While I regret not reaching out more often (being caught up in the things of this world), I rest easy knowing he is with our Savior.
Joe, Dan, Bob, John,
Rose, Andi, & Tina
We also celebrated Independence Day with food, fun, and festivities. We should remember that our nation was founded on a unique principle. Breaking away from England (the most powerful nation) changed the course of governance throughout the world. The courage of those men and women is the blood that courses through our veins; it is from that rootstock that this nation was built. It is unfathomable to imagine the hardships they endured to pull off such a heroic feat and to forge a nation that would become the bedrock of freedom world wide. We hope you enjoyed your Independence day celebration as much as we did ours. We’re looking forward to seeing all of you again at the market this week.