No Big Deal

4 10 2015

Rock _nThis last Friday one of the greatest male influences on my life passed away at the age of 91. My Uncle Carl lived a rather colorful life compared to most of us, but never looked at it as anything special, that’s how he looked at everything in his life. This is a story I wrote about Carl a number of years back, kind of an explanation of why he truly was special to me, and many others.  Thanks for reading.

Carl spent a good portion of his life overseas first as a Marine during WW2 and then working government jobs in the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Okinawa and even Viet Nam. When I was a boy and mom would tell me her big brother Carl was stateside and would be visiting; it was like the President himself was coming to our house and my excitement would overflow. Growing up without a father, Carl became an important role model in my life.

In my mother’s latter days she, my wife Cathy and I traveled to Las Vegas to visit her big brother since they had not seen each other for many years. The trip was an enjoyable one seeing Carl and his wife Sue, fully enjoying their company. Carl and I spent a lot time talking about where life had led us and I loved to hear about his exploits both then and in the past. Being a man who always kept himself in top physical shape, even then in his golden years he had one room filled with exercise equipment that he still used religiously. “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 Vegas 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 and when it was over we looked for Carl but couldn’t find him. When we did there was a small group of people having their picture taken with him and each shaking his hand before walking away. When we reached him he smiled, looked heaven ward and shook his head; “Happens all the time, I gotta get rid of this hat.” The hat he referred to was the one he was wearing with just a few words written on it; Iwo Jima Survivor”

The Battle for 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,” I said. “That hat signifies you as someone who went through and survived more hell than most of us will ever know; what you did for our county marks 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 and 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 those battles; continue on, one step at a time, trusting in His love and will for me.

Romans 5:1-5:” Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

This day I honor my Beloved Uncle Carl who has come to the end of his “Travels on the Rock Road,” but his legacy and approach to life will continue to live on in his children, grandchildren, and one nephew who loved him so much.

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.”

R.I.P. Uncle Carl,

And thank you.

See you all next week!!


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