I think, as ranchers, we understand the life and death cycle better than some. Our livestock is dependent on the decisions that we make in order to ensure that they fulfill their purpose of providing wholesome nutritious food to the world. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and sometimes there are tears and pain involved, but we try to do our best and sometimes our best even isn’t enough.
When a family member passes, it’s the same story — sometimes things don’t go as planned, and sometimes there are tears and pain involved.
Two weeks ago, the Boss Man’s Wife’s brother was placed on hospice. He had been fighting health issues for pretty much as long as I knew him. Every time he was placed in a hospital you would think, “this is it,” and every time he would rally and end up going home.
I had fortunately seen him the previous week as I had stopped in for a visit before flying to Minneapolis, Minn. He had been in the hospital a couple days at that point, and they had decided to drain his foot that evening. He was determined before being rolled into surgery that I should go in and video it for “Dr. Pimple Popper” his favorite TV show. Now, I love my uncle, but that request was one that was not going to happen.
He was released for a couple of days, before he found himself right back in the hospital. I received word that week from the Boss Man’s Wife that the decision was made to put him on hospice. But, by the sounds of it, it would be months before he would pass. Right after he had been placed on hospice and moved to a different hospital in downtown Colorado Springs, Colo., as they began preparations on his home for moving in, he took his first celestial breath and went to his final and greatest home.
The Boss Man’s Wife and her siblings were raised on a wheat farm in Bennet, Colo. Her oldest brother Zell enjoyed helping on the farm, and then at the age of 12 went into ministry when he preached his first sermon.
He started his pastoral career in 1973, and for the next 40 years preached to hundreds of Nazarene families throughout Colorado.
I attended their church services every once in a great while as we’d be down visiting them, and Zell would grab your attention from the start and hold it the entire service. I never remember anyone sleeping in his services, which — in my opinion — is a sign of a great pastor. His retirement sermon was one of the greatest I’ve ever heard, and I still compare it to many a sermon nowadays.
Zell and my Aunt Sharon were one heck of a team. They mentored many and were extremely well-respected throughout the district. My cousins, their partners, and children, loved them to no end.
When they weren’t involved in ministry, they were avid Broncos and Rockies fans, and many a day after Thanksgiving, we became fierce competitors as the CU-Buffs would take on the Huskers.
I hate funerals. When I pass, I want it to be a celebration. I want nametags, free beverages, live music, and all the steak and Dairy Queen blizzards one can eat. To be honest, I’ve avoided a funeral or two. I wasn’t going to avoid this one.
Last Friday was a phenomenal day of celebration. Pastors from all over came and spoke at my uncle’s funeral. The music was amazing, the messages were amazing, and one could not help but feel a sense of peace and calm. If you walked out of the service and didn’t feel a little closer to God, or encouraged by what you had experienced, I would have been surprised.
We all have a purpose. Some of us struggle to find that purpose, or maybe for others that purpose has changed over time. Whether it’s to help people find God, or feed the world, I hope we can all one day find that peace and calm that we are looking for.
I’ll miss Zell, as we all will. With the years of suffering he had been through, I can’t even imagine what he’s experiencing now. But he won’t be forgotten, and every once in a while, I catch myself smiling at the amazing legacy that he left that will carry on through many for years. Well done, faithful servant, well done.
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Neb. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.