My Uncle Mike died last weekend.
My parents are both only children so my parents’ best friends from high school stepped in. They became our aunts and uncles. Uncle Mike was one of the big ones. He worked with my Dad just about their whole lives, and even into retirement. They golfed together too. Uncle Mike was tall, loud, funny, smart, a smart ass. At the funeral yesterday someone said he always seemed to have an I’m-up-to-something look in his eye. That is exactly true.
His wife, my aunt, was strong and smiling all through yesterday. When she smiled at me, I burst into tears.
I cried a lot this week. Two days after my father called to tell me about Uncle Mike, my mother called to tell me that my father was in the hospital.
She was subdued, careful. Scared. When I got off the phone, I crumpled.
I still hadn’t figured out how my father’s best friend could be gone. Then I selfishly thought: Don’t take my Dad yet.
I’m not a religious person. I found comfort in hugs from my husband, my kids, the sound of my Mom’s voice, knowing my sister and brothers were there.
My father came home from the hospital later the next day, on new medication and now carefully watched. When I called, he answered the phone this time and – as had become my habit – I burst into tears.
My father felt well enough to go to the funeral – I don’t think he would have missed it. As we left, my sister, my brothers, my parents, our kids, all together, I gave my father three hugs. I whispered to him:
“I am so happy you’re here.”
He told me he wasn’t planning on going anywhere. I’m going to hold him to that.
To my Uncle Mike. What a strange place this world is without you here.