A. J. Windless
 The Perfect Brother
About twenty years ago my father died. At his funeral one of my cousins handed me this beautiful eulogy.

Uncle Shiner
"I knew him as 'Shiner' because that's what my mother called him. I never asked him if he liked the nickname. Maybe I should have.

I never heard my mother speak ill of Uncle Shiner; nor have I ever known of any real conflict between them. She always accepted him for what he was --- indeed a truly good and faithful brother. In his own special ways, he always showed his concern. He'd bring her garden vegetables and fruits, call her like a son would call a mother, and advise her. She has often said, "I don't know what I'd do without Shiner." Her own sons, Pete and I, have heard over and over: "Well, I'll have to ask Shiner. He knows about things like that." Indeed she will miss the unconditional love they enjoyed for each other. They were the ideal model of how a brother and sister should treat one another.

Uncle Shiner's manner of speaking disguised his intellect and interest about life. He'd often make me feel good by asking my opinions about issues. But oddly enough, I often felt weak in my response because I sensed that he generally knew more than I did. Behind the slow, somewhat gruff demeanor, was someone who had usually thought about what he'd asked about.

Like my mother, I found Uncle Shiner to be a very self-deprecating human being. He seemed to think that he was not a good as others. And, in that respect, he and my mother shared a feeling---perhaps because among their siblings they were the only ones who did not complete high school. And perhpas too the self-deprecation accounted for their common inclination toward a bit of stubbornness. After all, stubbornness is a way to protect oneself.

In my conversations with Uncle Shiner, he was careful to protect the integrity of his family. He never once spoke ill of either his wife or his children. Instead, his words would tell of the good they had achieved. Indeed as he talked to me, he reflected a great deal of respect for his wife's many talents and his children's many achievements. I recall his great pride as he told me of the detailed models that Paul had contructed; the hopes he had for Dan and Alvin amid his worry about their westward journey; and, the special interest expressed in Ann's work with horses.

I always felt that the loss of his child, Jane, must have had a traumatic affect upon Uncle Shiner. I can recall seeing her laid out at home and then serving as one of the pall bearers carrying the casket of a cousin. As a confused grade school kid, I was touched by the deep grief and wretching pain of Uncle Shiner and Aunt Eva--- they were obviously very shaken by the sudden loss of their innocennt child. I truly respected both of them for the strength of their faith. They told me that she had become a little angel....Uncle Shiner now joins her.

In short, I will always appreciate Uncle Shiner. One very important lesson he left is that siblings must love and care for one another unconditionally. If we could all live as Brother Shiner and Sister Marcella our lives would be enriched."
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