I can't be silent and not say anything about the precious man Uncle Bob was to me. Though I did not know him as long as the Stewart clan did, he was more than a friend to me...he was the closest physical appearance of Jesus that I have ever known on earth. I think Jesus was ready for his company face to face. I don't blame Him. Jesus loves him even more than we do.
He had the uncanny ability to look at you directly in the eyes and know the state of your spirit. The presence of God was so about him that even the harshest words were soaked in love. Because my family lives in the United States, Uncle Bob and Aunt Sylvia became my surrogate parents...mentors, friends, counselors, peace-givers. Being in their company filled my spirit with such peace. Spending time with them was like taking a drink from the refreshing fountain of Heaven. Uncle Bob loved me and I knew it...he wasn't afraid to show it or say it. I didn't have to be anyone but me around him.
What made the most impact on me was his deep, unchanging, faithful love for his wife. He called Sylvia his "sunshine" and you knew that was what she was to him. He honored her with his words, showed his devotion to her with his time, and you could see his bright blue eyes light up when she entered the room. They were best friends. And he also encouraged this deep love in our marriage. The two of them were living examples of what it means to "love as Christ loves the church and gave His life for her". He reiterated the importance of being one with the Spirit of God together....he challenged us to love each other unconditionally. He challenged us to be Christlike.
His strong sense of justice and his love of compassion infiltrated all his relationships. Any friendship he made was intentional and quickly became deeply relational....small talk was just a passageway into the heart of the matter. Over espresso (his taken with "sugar in the raw") and dark chocolate (though provided white chocolate for Sylvia and me), he would relay stories of God's faithfulness and intently listen to the areas Christ was sharpening us in. Like Tim shared, his wisdom was from the Lord. His generosity came in all forms....he loved freely and gave freely.
He was picky and had to have his plates heated for hot meals, and chilled for cold meals....but his quirks made us laugh and brought us calm familiarity. One never felt out of place in their home...whether their home was on their boat, in Ontario, or in Vancouver, one always felt welcome. I can remember him sitting in his stuffed chair with his silly stuffed dog, "Scruffy", chewing the fat for hours on end with Tim while Sylvia and I painted, sewed or cooked dinner. They were our best friends.
While my heart aches for my dear friend, I know the ache I feel is nothing compared to that of Sylvia who now has her two best friends walking together face to face now. I can just see Jesus and Uncle Bob in tears together laughing about Uncle Bob's journey here on earth....his mistakes...his triumphs...his joys...and I can see Uncle Bob, with humility and conviction kneel before the Lord in gratitude. Welcome home, Uncle Bob. You are missed.
We love you, Sylvia and we share in your sorrow and we share in our Saviour's joy through tears.