(from mid March)
Dear Aunt Ruth,
I wish I could be with you at the celebration today, but this brief note will have to do. It was really great being with you and yours at the wedding last year and I would have loved a repeat. Maybe next year, huh?
I’ll get around to the standard greetings on this big day, but I wanted to start with a thank-you. The truth is that I have much to thank you for, but it seems fitting that I should sum it all up with Keith Green.
You might not know why Keith means so much to me, but it starts with you. Do you remember? You sent me one of his albums during my high school years. I think it was “So You Want to Go Back to Egypt”, but I wouldn’t swear to that. It doesn’t matter because I didn’t listen to it. Back then it was just one of those religious books or records that Ruth and Jack would send along for a birthday or Christmas. I rolled my eyes every time I received something of this nature and proceeded to put the item in a closet or corner somewhere.
And that’s where I found the album when I returned from West Point a new creature in Christ. I quickly became a Keith Green fan.
Now, some might be tempted to think that your extensive evangelistic efforts were a waste of time, but I know better and I trust you do too. For to me, Keith Green is representative of a woman who was undoubtedly praying that the Lord would remove the veil from her nephew’s eyes, and of course…He did.
And then there’s Mom, who would surely send greetings of a similar spirit if she were able. I stopped to see her over lunch today. She asked me who I was. I told her I was her son. She was glad.
I helped her a bit with the meal – of course, she can feed herself and does usually, but her eyesight is not so good, and I occasionally help as I did today with the meatloaf and jello. Anyway, as she ate, “The Old Rugged Cross” came on the CD player in the dining room, and she began spontaneously singing along in between mouthfuls. I sang along quietly, helping her with the words just a bit while trying not to disturb her fellow residents lunching at the Christian Homestead. You’ll remember that while no Sandy Patti, Mom sings with gusto, and today was no exception.
Me…she’s foggy on, but she remembers the songs of her Savior.
And you led Mom to Him. More gratitude…from her, surely, but of course, from me as well.
And finally, my gratitude will never cease that today, almost exactly 5 years after his death, Dad (you’ll remember – the guy who bristled at being called “brother” upon coming into Water St. Church) is in fullness of joy. How about that? From you…to Mom and me…and from us…to Dad. Glory to God alone, but we are His instruments, and it’s amazing what a few words and an album can do.
The words of one of my favorite Keith Green songs come to mind:
Do you see, do you see, all the people sinking down?
Don’t you care, don’t you care, are you gonna let them drown?
How can you be so numb not to care if they come?
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done
Don’t close your eyes, don’t pretend the job’s done
Well, Ruth…you didn’t. You didn’t close your eyes, and you didn’t pretend the job was done, and you didn’t let us drown…and you did care…about the most important thing.
So aside from all the Thanksgivings, and weekends during college, and great conversations and love, I thank you on this day for being a faithful witness to the Knowlton family, and I’ll bet to a whole lot of others too.
You, dear Aunt, have run this course well, and I will forever be thankful for that. So, on this your 80th, Happy Birthday from all of us in still wintry Wisconsin!
You are very loved,