Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Thoughts on death - yeah, really

I'm behind on my entries but I've been struggling with how I should deal with this subject. I said earlier this year that I was going to address all the stuff going on in my life here. Talking about someone near to me dying wasn't on the agenda. Man plans, God laughs.

My uncle Nick died last week. He wasn't really my uncle, he was my godfather. I've called him uncle my entire life. After my dad died four years ago and my godmother died three years ago he and my mom became a couple. It was kind of weird but it was also kind of cool. He married my mom's oldest friend so they'd known each other for about 50 years. It was good for both of them.

I can't tell you that I was real close to Nick for most of my life. He lived in Arkansas and I lived in Pennsylvania. I probably only saw him a half dozen times in my life before he and my mom got together two plus years ago. One of them was when I was exactly one month old, at my baptism. In the last couple years I'd gotten to know him better and I'd come to like and respect him. In some ways he was just like my dad. In other ways they couldn't have been more different. My mom can be pretty orderly, Nick could be pretty free form. They were fun to watch together.

What sticks with me most is a ridiculous favorite line of his "I'm just a poor white Ukranian on a fixed income". It was after he passed away that I realized the really funny part of that line. Nick wasn't a wealthy guy in worldly terms. Yet there are few people I've known in this world who lived more richly. Even with some major medical problems he'd laugh and tell the most atrocious jokes and flirt with all the girls and dig into his pocket to slip me a little something when he thought I deserved it. He crocheted gorgeous blankets and just gave them away. He loved his children and his grandchildren. You were sure to hear the latest adventures of Rossie the youngest grandkid.

People keep asking me how I'm doing, and how my mother's doing. I guess we're doing OK. There's a part of me that hurts and I know there's nothing I can do about the pain. Instead of focussing on it I remember Nick as I've gotten to know him over the last couple years. I'll always treasure the Bible and Book of Common Prayer he and aunt Janet got me for baptism and confirmation. And there'll always be a special place in my heart for that "poor white Ukranian" that blew into my life and then suddenly disappeared.

I miss you Nick. And I love you.

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