My mother called last night with word that her youngest brother had died around noon that day. He was 65 years-old. His death wasn’t entirely unexpected as he’s been battling cancer for some time and had been in and out of the hospital more than once recently. Still that doesn’t make hearing the news any easier to take.
Of the three uncles I had on that side of the family my Uncle Dan was my favorite. Uncle Bob died when I was fairly young and I barely remember him. My Uncle Gene, who passed away two years ago, always scared the hell out of me as a kid so I never got particularly close to him. So my Uncle Dan was the one I got to know the best. He was the goofy uncle who was always laughing and making jokes. So much so that when he occasionally became serious about some topic it was always a bit of a shock to me. Growing up ADD without knowing it I always felt like a bit of a goof-ball outsider myself and my Uncle Dan was the first person to show me that it was OK to be a bit of a goof-ball. As a result my Uncle Dan’s passing will probably be the hardest of the three for me emotionally.
I didn’t react with any grief at first hearing the news—it always takes a couple of hours before it really sinks in for me—but I could hear the emotion in my mother’s voice. She’s the oldest of four and she’s now outlived all of her younger brothers. I grieve not just for myself, but for the pain I know she must be going through. There seems to be a commonality among oldest children that they often feel responsible for their younger siblings. It’s a role they never seem to grow out of, my problems with my own older brother are probably rooted in that very issue, and I know my mother often saw herself as being responsible for her brothers. Not that there’s anything she could have done in this situation, my Uncle succumbed to cancer, but rationality often takes a flying leap in the face of strong emotions.
Needless to say I didn’t sleep well last night so it’s going to be a long day at work today. I doubt I’ll be able to make it down to Florida for the funeral due to financial issues, but I wish I could be there. I’d been meaning to take a trip down to see my aunt and uncle and cousins for years, but time and money just didn’t line up to make it possible. That only makes me feel worse about not making it to the funeral. This is the part of the entry where I would normally close with some pithy insight into the nature of life and death, but I don’t have anything to offer on the front.