Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WHEN TOMORROW DOESN'T COME

You have probably heard the saying to say everything you feel about a person you love because there might not be a tomorrow?Why don't we ever heed those words? Is it because we don't want to face the fact that it is possible that it can all suddenly end?
Once again I was smacked by the reality of this fact when I lost my closest uncle.  The man I have looked up to my entire life. 
 He was my mother's brother, one year younger. She adored him to.  He was a brilliant man who I credit for giving me the love of history.  On a not recent enough visit, he told me how proud of me he was, and that I had a nice family and that I did a good job raising them.  Until that point, I have never had an elder family member ever say anything like that to me.  My father died when I was in my teens, and my mother died when my kids were young, so he was the only one left that I had that could notice things like that. 
With him goes all of the family stories I grew up with.  Sadly, the only other two people to remember have Altzheimers and their memories have been stolen.
He was a writer, and an artist
He was a historian, and because of him, we have a fairly thorough genealogy of our family. My hope is that he wrote down many of the stories that went along with the names.  I remember stories of many of the settlers, and I always meant to talk to him and get the stories to write down. 
When I was a younger woman and pregnant with my son, my uncle took us on a tour of historic Philadelphia, telling us all of the stories of the founding of our country. 

When my teenage son was rapidly growing taller than his parents, he expressed to me his worry about getting "too tall".  At our next visit I took this photo
Like two peas in a pod.  Younger photo's of my grandfather and my uncle would show a young man strikingly similar to my son.  Both stand with hands behind their back. I saw recent photos of my uncle walking with his hands behind his back.

I didn't have the benefit of living close enough to my uncle to get to see him on a regular basis, so I made the most of the time that I did get to spend with him. And in recent years, we would call and talk by phone.   He was a good man.  He took care of his family, and he was thoughtful and kind. It worried me that he was at best an agnostic. It takes so little to have faith, and it is a comfort.  He asked me why I was a believer the last time I saw him.  I understand that he saw raving religious fanatics in his childhood, who didn't understand a happy medium. I know that many of those past family members would stand by the tenant that the only way to God is through believing in Jesus Christ... no exceptions.   My uncle may not have believed in God, but I firmly believe that God believed in him.  And my God is merciful, and blesses us with endless grace.  I have no doubt that my uncle believes now.

I am going to miss him so much.  I haven't had parents in many years, and for me, he kind of took their place.  Every time one of our elder family passes, you lose a little bit of what was left of your childhood. A person that has known you longer than the family that you made.  Someone who remembers things about you that you don't remember yourself.

So it is true and I will end with "Always make sure that you tell the people that you care about how much they mean to you, because tomorrow might never come"



 

4 comments:

Rian said...

Dear Teri, I am so sorry for your family's loss. Your uncle looks like he was a terrific guy.

Mellie said...

Thank you for the great pictures and sweet words for our uncle. Grandpa Reed always walked with his hands behind his back! :) Uncle Lowell reminded me so much of Grandpa.

Robin said...

Teri
I'm so sorry for you loss. Be sure to get extra hugs from Bill. Sending you virtual hugs
Robin

Laura A said...

I'm sorry Teri - he sounds like a wonderful person and you were lucky to have him in your life.