I went to visit you in hospice center yesterday. It isn’t the first time I have been there. Each time, I wonder how I will find you. Will you be awake? Will you still be there? You look so small laying there, not like the farmer I knew who would tackle any job no matter how large.
When I first arrived, as I quietly entered your room, I discovered that your roommate was out. You were laying there, and my first thought was that you had passed. Then I heard you inhale. You were just asleep.
On one hand, I am relieved that you are still with us. On the other hand, I wish that your pain was over.
As I went to sit in a chair, I figured you would wake eventually, and then we could visit. A nurse came in, making a ruckus and waking you. She apologizes, and accepts your calm assurances that it is okay.
I put your clock on the wall. I remembered my last visit when you said that you wished you had a clock so you could know what time it is. Is it big enough? Yes, I guess it is. Next, I pull out a calendar, so that you can always know what day it is without having to ask. Is it big enough to see decently from your bed?
We discover that your cell phone battery has died, but can’t find your wall charger. I gladly give you mine, so that you can reach out to those you want to talk to.
We visit. I treasure these moments with you. I wish that I could explain just what you have meant to me. Sure we had our issues. You forgave me for helping put you in prison. But you aren’t the kind of man who embraces others easily. It isn’t in your nature to show how you feel, except when you are grumping at the nurses.
I forgave you for the long term problems I had with the IRS.
But mostly, I thank you for what you have meant to my life. For being there so often. Sure, I was cheap labor on the farm, but those were years that I treasured more than anything.
Since you have been sick this time, I have been working on building relationships with dad and with mom. And I thank you for showing me that it is okay to let go of past troubles. That it is okay to forgive and to accept forgiveness from those we love. I worry about dad, and how he will handle your passing. With our support, he will be okay, but I worry that he will take on too much.
I promise, when it comes time to have your memorial service, it will be just like you wish. Not a lot of pomp and circumstance. Just good visits over coffee and food.
You know, you aren’t fooling anyone when you grump at the nurses, and then thank them for stopping in to see you.
Thank you Uncle for being such an important part of my life. I’ll see you in a couple of days when I come visit again.