Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Gatlinburg Family

Since before I was born, my dad and about 8 of his closest college friends have had a reunion every Labor Day weekend. It's become one of my favorite weekends of the year. Over the years, it expanded from a bunch of college grads and their girlfriends, to a bunch of college grads with their wives and then the kids came along (we now out number the adults). Every Labor Day we pile into a chalet in the Smokey Mountains. Even though most of us only see each other once a year, we are always able to pick up right where we left off. We've become a family. The kids are all friends and all of the adults have become like second and third and fourth sets of parents to each of us. One of the things that I find the most incredible about this group though, is that each one of the couples has stayed together. With the 50% divorce rate in the US, I would say that is quite a feat.

My Gatlinburg received some sad news today. Timmer, one of the original eight, passed away this afternoon from a heart attack. I don't think Timmer ever missed a reunion. He, wife Lyneve, and sons Brady and Luke are some of the most loving people you will meet. As a vehicle-less freshman at UT this fall, they graciously offered to pick me up from school on the way to the chalet. On the way, they took me out to dinner (because what college student doesn't love free food). Timmer shared his college memories with me and gave me advice that I will never forget: find what you love to do and by doing so, you will be happy. I remember him telling me that before at the previous reunion. I was in full swing with college searches and had my heart set on going to UT. We were sitting on one of the decks of the chalet and talking about college and my plans for my life. I remember him mentioning that the best advice he can offer me is to find what I love to do and to do it. I have taken that advice to heart and over the past two semesters I have been truly trying to find what makes me happy. I'm still figuring it out, but I am determined to do so.

The loss of Timmer has hit our extended Gatlinburg family hard. We've lost a friend. Brady and Luke have lost their dad and Lyneve her husband. I have no doubt though that Timmer was welcomed into Heaven this afternoon and is now with God. Even though it seems like there was no reason for him to be taken away from those who love him, I have faith that the Lord will bring good out of this.

Even though this is cliche, every time I lose someone, it makes me realize how truly short life is. I should live life to the fullest. I should show the love of Christ to everyone I encounter. I need to let people know that I care about them. Living away from many people that I love, I am very inconsistent with keeping in touch. Losing Timmer has made me realize that there is no guarantee that I will have tomorrow. I am going to strive to live that way.

I miss you already, Timmer. I can't imagine a Gatlinburg weekend without you.

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