It was a year ago today that we got the text from Kyle that “Jesus, himself had come to take Gene Home.”. My feelings were a mix of relief and regret. Pancreatic Cancer is one of those horrific diseases that eats away at a person until there is nothing left but keeps them alive anyway. So, yes, we were grateful when the suffering was over. But Gene was one of those guys that you had to be intentional about getting together with and, like most people you take for granted, we didn’t get together as much as we should have. Thus regret peeks in.
The time that we did get in was incredibly sweet; lunch, when he was feeling up to it, a trip to the Outdoor Campus, a soccer game, or movies at my house. One of Gene’s greatest gifts was his ability to connect with people and creating conversations. While running errands before Christmas he was chatting with the down hearted clerk at Toys R Us and the Native American man who was in town mourning his late wife at the Howard Johnson. He was best at connecting with those he loved, like with his great nieces while having lunch at Culvers. My girls are blessed by having known him and Mia still mentions Gene and the different things they did together. Because Mia didn’t have school, they got a lot of time in together toward the end and became good buddies.
I find myself thinking of him frequently. During the Olympics, memories of skiing at Terry Peak came in. Gene was always good for conversation and stories on the chairlift and cheese fries in the lodge. Every time Mia has on cowboy boots at the worst times, like riding a scooter or in an icy parking lot. It was a rare day, one you took note of, if you saw Gene in a pair of tennis shoes. Nate’s exclamations during a football game that would have made Gene chuckle. I can still hear his laugh. Anytime anyone mentions camping, or fishing, or rock climbing or driving a car in a blizzard on the Michelson Trail. That last one was probably only him.
Uncle Gene was a great uncle and he still missed. I am grateful for the time we had with him and look forward to skiing down a mountain with him again.
Link to Obituary http://www.osheimschmidt.com/memsol.cgi?user_id=1929368