Sometimes it’s hard to find the words. These will have to do…
Grandparents, great aunts and uncles, they don’t need to figure out who they are, they are just themselves. They have endless patience and unlimited time to dote on the little ones.
Uncle Cherry was always like that (ok, maybe not endless patience). Maybe he was different before. But from the time I knew him he had time. He would rather spend time with his family than anything else. And he just thought (or acted like) everyone felt the same way, he just expected people to be around. And so we were. And then we were glad for it.
We may say our final goodbye, take solace in the ease of his suffering, talk of times past. But we will always remember him in our own wonderful ways. To me, a father to stand in for the one I didn’t know. A treasured uncle, a genius with infinite knowledge about everything imaginable. A warm embrace, a shoulder to cry on, a man I could count on.
I’ve missed my uncle for a long time. The cancers (and medications!) may have slowed him down and the pneumonia may have been his undoing, but the stroke took him from us. When I brought my kids up in August to visit him in the VA home, I had to explain to our oldest, he would not chat about the stars and days of old like he used to. But he would happily listen to all our stories and antics. It was our turn to tell the corny jokes, to steal a glimpse of a smile.
I have 41 years of memories. From the booming voice of discipline when I was little, making sure I would mind my manners… to the insightful advice a girl in her 20’s doesn’t want to hear but listens to nonetheless…to the intelligent debates among adults and to the beautiful moments he spent with our kids (even the teasing and not knowing when to stop!)…and everything in between. I will forever be grateful for all these memories we have with this great man we were all so lucky to call Uncle, Dad, Husband, Papa, Brother, Friend.
We must teach our next generation what he taught us, family first, honesty always (unless your playing trivial pursuit 😉), generosity, and fight until you simply can’t fight anymore.
There’s more, I know there’s more, but that’s all I have for today.
I love you Uncle Cherry.