The universe has thrown a couple punches my way recently.
My parents were headed out our way for their first visit. After months of planning a itinerary was set, a villa in Bali was rented and plane tickets purchased. Alas, my grandfather who has been ill for many years with Alzheimer’s took very sick suddenly with a chest infection. And so, with my Dad in Japan teaching (one of the furthest trips he’s taken for work in some time, of course) and my Mom at home prepping for a visit, their trip was suddenly cancelled about 5 days before they were to arrive.
My Grandfather passed away a few days later. He was a good man, a loving husband who worked hard so that his sons could go to College and have a good life to provide for their own families. He taught my Dad an important lesson that thru education your future is yours to make. Finding myself a middle class kid from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, now living half way around the world in Singapore thanks to the college education my Father made sure I received it’s a lesson I’m thankful for everyday. I have many happy memories of fishing with PaPa, learning to bait a hook, fly fish in the quite waters of Bayou Barbara catching fish under the trees where the caterpillars would nest, driving the boat, and learning to drive a car with his help in a parking lot at the local park near his house. In a way, I let go of him many years ago. With the Alzheimer’s slowly taking his mind, I made peace with the inevitable end that was coming for him, I’m thankful and hopeful that he’s at peace now.
In a way, it’s knowing that Papa would pass that made it easier to deal with his death. For me, that’s what makes the next bit of news so much harder. My Uncle, the very definition of salt of the earth, suddenly collapsed at his home and died 4 days after my grandfather was buried. The abruptness of it is the worst part. Uncle Al was the gentlest man I knew. I don’t recall him raising his voice, cursing in anger, or saying a cross word about anyone (aside for the occasional politician) in all the time I knew him. To have him pass so quickly, so suddenly is a punch to the gut. Uncle Al had a weak heart and had slowed down some over the years. But I always expected him to perhaps slowly leave us. Just continued getting slower and slower until you knew it was time and could make peace with it. Always there with a loud laugh and a quick joke, he will be missed dearly.