Live like you are dying

Time spent with those we love is like mana for our souls. How easy is it to push a visit or a phone call into the background because something more immediate pops up? A couple weeks back the roads were a bit concerning for me to making a trip to visit my dying uncle six hours away. Snow and storms were making the news and I put off driving for a couple days.

I made a snap decision, snow be dammed! I need this visit, maybe more for me than for him.

My favorite uncle has terminal cancer and has been dying for awhile now. His doctors gave him months to live.. a couple years ago, then a reprieve, but now it is not looking good and he is in the hospital. I have a special bond with him and my aunt, whom passed away two and a half years ago. I feel he is my last connection to my beloved nana (his mom) and my mom (his sister).

He and I are not so apart in age either, he is more like an older brother to me. Coming from a broken home I spent a lot of time at my nanas which put us together a lot. He bought me my very first record. He also watched out for me.. I learned of John F Kennedys assassination from him. I can still see him running down the stairs at nanas house shouting “they shot John Kennedy!” Omg he was so upset, as was the whole world.

His marriage to my aunt was a love story that never ended, even when she died. Both of them watched out for me in my younger years. Just their presence in my life gave me comfort. When I needed advice or even just a a word of encouragement, I knew where they were.  I could count on them as a safe place to land, a refuge from my own home, as one of six kids living with a single mom on welfare.

Hopefully most of us have access to a person or people like this in our lives, role models are sadly lacking in today’s society. My aunt is gone but still alive through my uncle, he is living all this dying stuff with such humour and grace. I am sitting here at his kitchen table and he is in the hospital awaiting hospice, and its hard to imagine him not being here.

I text him that I ate all his bacon and I found two white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies in his cupboard and they are resting peacefully in my tummy. Are the loose eggs in the bowl safe to eat I text him.. no expiration date! I expect him to answer with a “eat them and find out” kinda smart-ass answer. We share a cryptic sense of humor.

I get back a ‘going to hospice tomorrow, had a bad night, mostly sleeping’. My visit yesterday musta played him out and now I am feeling bad.. (oh, and the cookies were two months old!) Why do good people have to die anyway, its just not fair. He looked so good, and he was telling me how much he enjoyed being where he is.. “they are all so nice here” are his exact words.

Yesterday I used his phone at the hospital to text his kids that they should take me out for a fantastic meal because I am such a wonderful caring person, but I think they were onto me. They are all busy and then in comes more visitors, so I reluctantly leave and make my way here and eat leftovers out of his fridge.

As I sit here writing about him.. I realize how lucky am I am to be related to such a good person, I am so proud to be his favorite niece (he’ll like this when he reads it) and he truly is my hero. We don’t have a lot of hero’s in our lives, he has been mine along with my aunt.

My uncle Gary is the fairest person I know, he never gets involved in arguments, petty issues or family feuds. Gossip does not interest him in the least but justice does. He is not racist or dishonest and he cares very much for his family.. his marriage to my aunt was a real honest to goodness love story..

His passing is going to leave a great big hole in my heart

going forward without him

I will strive to live my life

like I am dying,

just like him,

he will

live on

in my heart

always

my Hero

Ps.. I wrote about my aunt about five years ago, she was an amazing woman and I loved her dearly as well, here is a link if you want to read it. www.my-thirdlife.ca/Dementia …  a true love story