When my daughter Allison, 7 years old, learned that her great uncle Cloy had died, she was inconsolable. “Why did God let him die, why couldn’t he make him well? Why did so many of my great aunts and uncles die? And I lost the paper with Great Aunt Grace Roth’s name on it, what if I forget her name? Three of my grandpas have died! I only have one grandpa left. I just want to talk to Great Uncle Cloy one more time, right now I can’t even remember what he looks like.”

Beyond assuring her that I would help her remember Aunt Grace’s name and show her pictures of Uncle Cloy, I didn’t know what to say. So we just laid on her bed and cried together.

Then I told her that Uncle Cloy had been very sick. He had finished all the work that God had for him to do, so Jesus said it was time for him to come home to Heaven.

Hope said that Cloy once told her “Man is immortal until his life’s work is done”, so maybe that was the right thing to say.

I’m sure many people would testify that a big part of Cloy’s life work was encouragement. He didn’t seem to hold back when it came to encouraging others, he certainly didn’t with me. I remember soon after starting to sing in my quartet how Cloy and Norma went out of their way to be so supportive and encouraging. In fact, if I remember correctly, one of the first times we sang outside of our home church was when Cloy had us come sing for the morning service at his church. And over the years that encouragement was always there, and it meant so much to me.

This summer┬áthe quartet got together for a reunion concert, and afterwards I thanked Cloy for all the encouragement he had given over the years, often when there probably wasn’t much to encourage! He didn’t seem to think he had done anything special, but I know better than that. And even from our conversation that night as he told me of people and events in his life from the last few years, it was plain to see I was just one of many to be on the receiving end of his tremendous encouragement.

What an incredible example he was, I am truly blessed to be his nephew.