No Big Deal

3 08 2014

This last weekend a very special individual in my life reached a milestone, my Uncle Carl, one of my greatest heroes celebrated his 90th birthday surrounded by many of his family. It’s hard for me to think of this man being the age that he is, but as great as he’s kept himself in shape, I’m also Uncle Carl and hat (2)not surprised. Here is my mother’s oldest brother, 30 years my senior, that had we raced swimming and running back when he was 50 and I was 20, well most likely I would have been schooled big time.

Carl spent a good portion of his life overseas starting with being a Marine during WW2 and then working government jobs the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Okinawa and even Viet Nam. When I was a boy and mom would tell me Carl was stateside and would be visiting us it was like the President himself was coming; I was excited, but I know everyone else was too.

In my mother’s latter years she lived with Cathy and me. Knowing things in her life were changing rapidly, she requested that we go out to Las Vegas to visit her big brother, one more time. The trip was an enjoyable one seeing Carl and his wife Sue for the first time in many years, enjoying their company, especially for mom. When time allowed Carl spent a lot time talking, catching up on where life had led us. He had one room of his house completely filled with exercise equipment that even though he was in his 70s he still used actively. “Carl, do you still power walk like you used to?” “No, I had to give that up,” he answered. “The neighborhood started changing a few years back, got a little rougher. A bunch of kids on the other side of the block started pelting me with eggs so I stopped.” Now I was angry, “Carl, that’s not right, show me where these kids live and I’ll get it straightened out with their parents, one way or another!” With a soft smile Carl looked at me and said, “Johnny, I’m fine, it no big deal.” No big deal?!! Sure seemed like it to me, but okay if that’s the way he saw it.

The next evening Carl took Cathy and me down to Fremont Street where the original Strip was located; only now it was covered in a canopy where this awe inspiring laser projected show was shown accompanied by beautiful patriotic surround sound music. The whole production was captivating, but when it was over we couldn’t locate Uncle Carl. When we did find him, there was a small group of people having their picture taken with him and then each shaking his hand before walking away. When we got to him he was smiling and shaking his head, “That happens all the time, I gotta get rid of this hat.” The hat he referred to was the one he was wearing that had just a few words written there, Iwo Jima Survivor”

The Battle of Iwo Jima was the bloodiest conflict in the South Pacific during WW2, during the 5 week conquest to capture the island from the Japanese, American troops lost nearly 7,000 men with another 19,000 wounded. This single battle produced more Congressional Medal of Honor winners than any other conflict in our nation’s history. “Carl, that hat signifies you as someone who went through and survived more hell than the majority of us will ever know; what you did for our county does mark you as someone special and a hero to many.” We started to walk off but then he turned, looked me in the eyes and said those same words I heard from him about another conflict, “Johnny, it’s no big deal.”

Over the years since that moment I have thought about his words often, how he described two clashes in his life, one major and one minor in the great scheme of things. And for both circumstances he summed them up with the exact same words, and attitude, “It’s no big deal.”

C.S. Lewis said “What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.” I have known few men like my Uncle Carl, who after going through great tribulation have survived mentally as well as physically because they have adopted this position; it’s behind you now, keep going, and don’t look back. He’s never realized the great lesson I learned from his words “It’s no big deal.” He also taught me something about being a Christian from those words also. “God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them,” once again C.S. Lewis.

Carl’s attitude made me realize that’s how my Lord wants me to live. Don’t get weighed down by my battles and scars that come from them; continue on, one step at a time, trusting in His love and will for me. (Romans 5:1-5, take the minute it takes to read these words, they’re worth it, to you.)

This day I honor my Beloved Uncle Carl along with all the military men and women who have “Traveled the Rock Road,” for me and for you; who may see what they did, what they survived as no big deal; but the rest of us know different, right?

Here’s an excerpt from the Marine’s Prayer; If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.  Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.”

Happy Birthday Uncle Carl,

See you all next week!!

 

 

 

 


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One response

4 08 2014
Gary Austin

John,
Carl is an incredible model of letting the “big” issues of life lived selfishly become “no big deal” things in light of living life purposely. BTW, I did read Romans 5 – what Christ did is a very Big Deal for all mankind.

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