My great uncle had perfect Sunday School attendance for over 73 years.

That means he went to church every Sunday, hours before that week’s worship service (even while he was a prisoner of war in world war two). His achievement is an extraordinary level of dedication and testament of his faith. My grandmother, his sister, always held up his example when I complained about going with her to Sunday school and church.

Here’s something I realized many years ago. Despite the inspiring accomplishment that Uncle Julian achieved so many years in a row, he wasn’t always a shining light in our family. He never married, lived an austere life that suited his devotion, but was often bitter for reasons I can only begin to imagine. Julian lived in the same home he grew up in for most of his life.

More than his faith and attendance, I remember him being mean to his adult sisters. I didn’t like that, and told him so whenever I visited. He was a hard worker, retiring from the same job he’d started before WWII in the late 1990’s. He stayed busy after retiring, spent even more time at church, or helped as he could in the small community where he lived most of his life.

I relate this little bit of family history because like my Uncle Julian, the characters I write about are complex. Individuals are seldom one or two dimensional characters, and that holds true for the people in my stories. Uncle Julian had great faith and determination, but he held anger and resentment that our family endured the six days a week he wasn’t at church.

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