I have never fully dreaded the idea of attending the homegoing of a family member. When my mother in law’s brother, Marvin Small, passed away…I felt it slightly. But I never will forget the last time I saw him outside of our local neighborhood grocery store, sitting in his car….Uncle Marvin gave me a look of farewell. I felt a sense of closure. I eagerly gathered up the strength to be there for the extended family who had become my own, and our young son, Kai, who grew to know and love the quiet uncle who lived a few houses down the street from us. I slightly dreaded attending that funeral; but this is different.
My Uncle Lloyd is gone. The tears I shed just even writing those words are hard to explain, especially for a man who never, ever cries; not even really much when my grandfathers passed away. Getting the news from my first cousin this past Monday….upon hanging up the phone, I cannot explain the feelings that overtook me in that moment. My father’s only living brother; the patriarch of our family….now gone.
Growing up with hearing problems, I used to think he was the visible twin of the invisible God because it seemed as if everyone called him “Lord!” My brothers called him “Uncle Lord!” And my own father called him “Lord!” I determined he was somebody important!
Over time, not only did I learn the difference between Lord and Lloyd, but I grew to appreciate his ubiquitous presence at monumental events. As I grew, I would learn that DFW was not some hop, skip and jump from the Sparkling City by the Sea. And yet….he was at my first sermon, there for every milestone event in the life of our family; and could always be heard in any setting….especially church.
People loved to hear him sing “I Won’t Complain” and “My Soul Has Been Anchored.” But to hear him sing “Because He Lives” was my favorite. He sang it in March of 1994, at my first public sermon, during the invitation.
Behind the scenes…he gave me a heads up on approaching a young lady from Houston I had been admiring at his church, who would eventually become my wife. Behind the scenes…I called him in the Fall of 2015 to ask him about a church in Atlanta, and he instructed me to, rather, submit my inquiry and information to Shiloh in Fort Worth…a church I knew nothing about; and the place where I now pastor; and hope to retire. My first 5-day revival, as a teenager, was at his church, St. Emmanuel, in Denton. Surprisingly, amidst the poor sermons I preached, he’d invite me back a few times afterwards. Eventually, he influenced Pastor R.L. Sanders to preach me each year in revival in Fort Worth. In time, that led way to preaching in Oklahoma for many years for Pastor J. A. Reed, Jr. When he was healthy, Uncle Lloyd would attend those revivals, even the ones in Oklahoma, regularly and nightly.
Several years ago…Uncle Lloyd had a stroke. Eventually, this led to his retiring from Pastoring. It did not alter his mind; but it did slow him down. I could see some changes in his life. But I never saw him waver on his call and his love for God. I am certain he wondered why God wouldn’t have healed him completely. I am also sure, like anyone, it was challenging to depend on others to do for him what he once did for himself. I would confide in him my wish for him to capitalize on what he had been left with, by God. But I personally would ask God often to give him more years, more time, and healing.
The last time I saw him…I felt I saw a glimmer of hope. For the first time in a long while, he didn’t go to sleep on me. He was talking and smiling; and sounding like his old self. He perked up when talking about George McCalep, as we always did; and about his ministry that he had been planning to launch and expand. It was like old times. We talked about barbecue, Shiloh, and family.
I finally expressed to him that I was leaving to head back to Keller. And he said to me, “Before you leave, will you pray?” I prayed with my Uncle. I didn’t pray for healing (I honestly felt that God was answering that prayer). I simply thanked the Lord for the journey. I thanked the Lord for His peace. I thanked Him for my Uncle. I thanked the Lord for Aunt Janice, their children, grandchildren, friends and family. I asked the Lord to let us all know beyond a shadow of any doubt that He is God and God all by Himself. After our prayer together, I told him I love him and I would see him soon.
My dread of attending my Uncle’s home going is not because of any regret; but it is in the fact that I just wished he had more time. This loss has taken me to a new, somber, unexpected place. It is hard to believe I will never hear his voice alive, on this side, again. It is so hard to believe that the man who was always present for us (even after his stroke)….now rests in the arms of our Savior. But somewhere through here there is a lesson about submitting to the will and wisdom of God. All of our steps are ordered, including his and mine. When our work is completed, until the final chapter….God will have the last word. I thank the Lord for my Aunt Janice, who never wavered on fulfilling the vows “for better or worse; in sickness and in health….till death do us part.” She is to be commended and applauded for all she has done.
My Uncle will be missed by many.
Oh, I’m certain he wasn’t perfect. But I am certain he is in the presence of my Savior…..healed, whole, lifting up both of his hands, walking, SINGING, shouting, crying, rejoicing and worshipping.
Uncle Lloyd in now in the presence of the LORD!
I’ll see him soon….but not yet!
Celebration of Life for Reverend Lloyd Anthony Pullam will be as follows:
Viewing on Friday, May 17th from 12-8pm
People’s Funeral Home
1122 E Mulberry Street
Denton, Texas 76205
Funeral Service on Saturday, May 18th 11am
St Andrew COGIC
608 Lakey Street
Denton, Texas 76205