Well, it’s been just another fun filled week. I don’t know how much more of this fun I can take. First I found out a good friend I’ve known for over 25 years, we were in each other’s weddings and he’s been married 15 years, is getting divorced. Then, another very close friend’s mother got ill suddenly and passed on Wednesday. The next day I get a call saying my Uncle Jack is in the hospital with a brain bleed that is coming out of his nose and he’s been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He’s in hospice, comatose, waiting for his crossing.
This morning I call my mother to ask how Uncle Jack is doing. That’s when I find out the tumor is malignant and that he’s in a coma. I was thinking about Uncle Jack yesterday. Great guy. Real intellect. A great writer. We didn’t share the same theology, but we were friends on Facebook, pretty impressive given the fact he was in his 90s at the time. You see, Uncle Jack will be 96 in just a few weeks. He’s my father’s oldest surviving brother. As I was contemplating his passing and thinking how it’s another one leaving us, I started to think about it from his perspective. He’s lived a long, full life. He’s going Home. Soon, he will see his mother and father again and Aunt ‘Nita, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Walter, and Uncle Karl. What a homecoming it’s going to be!
This morning as I was talking to my mother checking in on Uncle Jack we talked about getting old. My grandmother said a lot of wise things to me. The most simple and most profound I remember her telling me when we were sitting at the kitchen table. I must have been around 16 because I remember her telling me she still had the same mindset she had at 16. She didn’t see herself as an old lady. She was that same girl in the body of an old lady. Then, she said, “If you live long enough, you get old.” We deny age in our society. We fight the aging process. We not only think we’re going to live forever. We think we are going to be young forever. One of the follies of youth is you will never be the old man you see sitting across from you. My mother will be 80 in a few weeks. She’s still going strong. She still travels the world. When I talked to her this morning, she was preparing for a dinner party this evening. She’s cooking for six guests. She told me she is finally slowing down, feeling the effects of her age. She has arthritis in her back that is limiting how much time she can stand on her feet. But, she said the same thing my grandmother told me back when my grandmother was actually more than a decade shy of my mother’s age. She doesn’t feel old in her mind, just the body. She’s always talking about how stubborn my Aunt Lil is at 90+, but today for the first time to me anyway, she admitted she will probably be just like her, denying aging.
Uncle Jack has been a fixture in my life for as long as I can remember. If anyone were to tell me their 95-year-old uncle, grandfather, whatever was passing, I would, of course, offer my sympathies, but in the back of my mind I’d be thinking “Dude, he’s 95. It’s time for him to go.” But, it’s never time for those closest to us, those who we’ve gotten to know over the course of our lifetimes. When Elvis died, I was 16 years old. Elvis was 42. I remember thinking “Why is everybody so upset?” I loved Elvis, but for me, at 16, Elvis was old. Now, my Uncle Jack is 95 and I’m not ready for him to go. I feel for his “kids” (most of whom are older than I am) losing their father. I guess it’s all relative.