Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cousin Rob

My Cousin, Rob Edge with his "Little B"
Click HERE to see the 5-Minute tribute video from the funeral.

My cousin, Rob Edge, died on Wednesday.  He was only 40.  He was far too young to die of the heart attack that took him.  He was the only son of my aunt Beth and Uncle "Bud" (Claybourn) Edge. The obituary would tell you he was born in July of 1975, he had been married and had one daughter, Barrett (only 8), but it would not tell you everything.  Rob was a few months older than my sister which made them both 11 years younger than me.  Rob and Casey did many things together as kids and through their teen years, there are some legendary stories.  Rob was a legendary surfer and whitewater tour guide on the Ocoee River.  He loved the outdoors and moved from Florida to Georgia to be nearer to his daughter.  Rob ran a business making beautiful pieces of lasered wood art, trophies, awards, etc. I was honored to be asked to share a little and read scripture at his funeral this afternoon.

Just before the funeral, one of our cousins shared with me a poem that he said had been brought back to his mind in the night and he felt it reflected Rob's spirit.  He asked me to read it as part of my remarks.  I already thought it ironic that we were celebrating Rob's life inside a building when so much of his life was spent outdoors.

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, 
And all I ask is a tall ship and star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, 
And the flung spray and blown spume, and the sea gulls crying. 

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

(Rob chose to be cremated and on March 13, his remains will be returned the waters in Florida that he loved so much.)

As I mentioned above.  Some of Rob's adventures were legendary.  To say that he had not exactly lived the life his parents had hoped for him would be an understatement. Rob's father was a Minister of Education for many years at several churches.  My aunt and uncle wanted Rob to grow up with love for God.  They wished for him a good college education and good career.  While Rob certainly witnessed the love of God through his parents, he did not experience the best of faith in the church.  He made a profession of faith and was baptized (as we say in the Baptist church), but as he grew older, he found it difficult to be involved in a traditional church.  He did not finish college and he seemed to try on many different jobs through the years.  However, what I find courageous is that Rob made a life that included time for the things that gave his life meaning. He always made time for the water, time for fishing, time for surfing, and time with friends.  Rob made a living through his creativity, but was so generous with his work that he probably gave as much away as he sold.  As he made a living his way, he had a relationship with God that was his own too. As Tom T. Hall sang years ago, "Me and Jesus, we got our own thing going...", and perhaps that was true for Rob as well. 

However, it was obvious from the comments of friends and others that knew him that  God was at work in him.  We know that in the beginning that God created and when Rob created each piece of art he created the beauty was a reflection of God's good creation and reminded us of the goodness of God's gifts.  Rob was a good friend. He was know for his selfless generosity and his humble kindness. He reflected the love of God in his interactions with others. Nowhere was that more evident than in Rob's role of father. It was obvious that Barrett was a central part of Rob's life. In every interaction we were privy to we saw a father who loved deeply and took delight in his child. It was a beautiful reminder that our father in heaven takes delight in each of us. 
Rob, Barrett, and Jack
It had been said that every man dies, but not every man lives. To me, Rob lived. He had the riches of friendship, the treasure of God's creation,  and he embodied God's love in the way he lived. 

I closed my comments by sharing Psalm 23 from Eugene Peterson's paraphrase, "The Message" (with my own twist. )

1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.
You provide for me richly
    in the darkest of places.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.


A group of friends have started a "Go Fund Me" page to raise funds for Barrett's college.  If you feel led, please join me in supporting this effort to continue the care of Rob's greatest love.