Several weeks ago, my wife Melanie and I attended her Aunt Vera's 95th birthday party. Most of her family was there to celebrate this milestone. Missing were Melanie's father and mother and several of her aunts and uncles who were celebrating Vera's birthday in another dimension. We all felt their absence as we remembered them in our conversations about previous family reunions. One of those absent family members was Melanie's uncle Ozzie Osborne. Yes, his name was Ozzie Osborne (he would tell you that he was the first Ozzie Osborne and that the other Osborne had used his name without permission).
As I sat on the porch eating and talking with Melanie's cousins, I watched the leaves from oak and maple trees falling to the ground and I remembered something that Ozzie once said.
Uncle Ozzie was an artist. His pen and ink drawings of old tobacco barns, old houses, and trees decorate the walls of most of Melanie's relatives' homes and the pages of several books about rural life. But I remember him most for a notebook that he kept with him. Whenever he heard something he liked or if he ran across an interesting fact, he wrote it down. Inside the notebook was esoteric information like how to make rope; how to measure the height of clouds; how to build a fire in wind and rain...
Ozzie's drawings were filled with trees with limbs full of leaves or piles of leaves laying in the grass beneath trees. And as I sat on the porch watching the leaves fall, I could hear Ozzie telling me again, "You know, there is something magic about falling leaves. Look at them... red, yellow, and all the colors in between, twirling and swirling down to earth, enriching the soil and our lives". He said this as we stood on the porch of a cabin, watching leaves falling all around us.
For Ozzie, all of life, the big moments, the small moments, the insignificant and trivial, were important. Each moment contained a truth to be discovered. There were no lost moments and every moment was a chance to be transformed. Ozzie thought life was an amazing journey and he knew that it was the journey, not the destination, that brought happiness.
Ozzie liked to share this happiness. At our family gatherings, Ozzie would hug our children and whisper in their ear, "You are so special to me," meaning every word. Then he would take me aside, his arm around my shoulder, and tell me about his latest discovery.
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