I am blessed to know my grandma’s cousins. Thanks to long-living, family-loving great grandparents, Fred and Harriet Hertzog, I have quite a few memories with extended family and their children, especially three of my grandma’s cousins: Rick, Doug and Jeff. This extended family is one of God’s graces to me as I have navigated life without a traditional family.
Among my clearest memories is my great grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary, where all the families presented a song, poem or skit honoring our patriarch and his lovely wife. Over a long weekend, Hertzog family stayed in the converted barn or camped on my great grandparents Port Angeles property, and as I got to know my cousins, I learned a bit about the spiritual legacy inherited by my family.
I certainly didn’t recognize it at the time, but the Hertzog men live radical lives. Among them are foster parents, children who have served in missions, and hearts that have suffered loss and sickness and trial. Three years ago, Rick suffered a long, scary recovery from spinal meningitis. He was in a coma, but God saw fit to save his life. What a joy it was to hear of his recovery! True adventurers like many in our family, they have also been blessed to travel the world and host exchange students from all around.
After I became a Christian, I saw the influence of my extended family on my Christian walk. I do not know if they prayed for me when I was a child. I know they pray now. My situation, being raised by my grandparents, certainly warranted it, but we saw each other at weddings and funerals, for the most part. But they have always been so supportive. All three came to a baby shower to celebrate Susanna’s life just days before she came along. In spite that it took me years to remember who was who and which children and wives belonged to whom, there is a quality about the Hertzogs that has always made me look forward to our times together, brief and infrequent as they are.
And now one of them is gone. This weekend, Rick had a heart attack and now he is with Jesus. My heart is broken. It doesn’t seem fair that God would save Rick’s life only to allow it to end three years later.
But, (though It is easy for me to say, because I haven’t lost my husband or brother or father): it is fair. God is sovereign, he is in control, and he warns us in his Word that our days are numbered. Rick lived his life in a way that acknowledged that. It had an impact on me. The worst thing in our minds, losing a beloved, is the best thing for that person when he is a believer, as Rick was. He is with Jesus. Hallelujah! Rick, you will be missed. We look forward to meeting you again in our true home.