Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Is your trip business or pleasure? I could see the blurred form of the car rental agent in my peripheral vision. He held the clipboard, pen ready to check a box after I answered.

The car was candy red. My eyes stared past the surface. I felt them sting and I blinked a few times.
Did you know my mother never came home from the hospital after I was born? And they were never close, my dad with her family. They all drifted apart over the years. There was anger, sadness. I don't know what it was, exactly.
And my life was a dad, a sister and brothers. I didn't think to ask questions, it was just the way it was. And no one ever really explained what happened.

But I felt self-conscious as I hit my teenage years. People who knew her were spooked by my uncanny resemblance to my mother. People I'd never met would tell me things about her. Things that I didn't know about someone I should have been familiar with.

Did you know that I would stop at Grandma's house now and again on my way to and from college? One time my uncle was there and we spent hours talking. And he said to come visit him out in California anytime, he'd love to have me.

He repeated the offer in Christmas cards. I can't believe I didn't go visit him until nearly 17 years later. After two family funerals. After he moved to Phoenix.

And you know, once I started visiting, it became a yearly ritual. Phoenix gave me warm spring days riding my bicycle in the desert sun. It gave me the smells of blooming cacti during the depth of Minnesota winters. And my uncle gave me an understanding of my mother and of her life and ultimately of myself.

And did you know he's receiving hospice care now. I'm losing the one who fit all the pieces together for me. I thought he'd be here forever.
I took a breath.

Neither, I answered.

- tob


WheelDancer said...

He'll always be a part of you and you a part of him.

The Old Bag said...


Doozyanner said...

I'm so very sorry--yet so very glad you had your uncle in your life.

DuchessOmnium said...

I don't think I have visited your blog before and feel as if I have suddenly stumbled into something private and unexpected in the middle of the story. But I guess that is also what your "instant" was about.

I only know what you have written in one short post. But I am so sorry that you are learning to lose Uncle Ken.

Groover said...

You just made me cry. I don't exactly know why.

Because I'm glad you had your uncle and he was able to fill the gaps. It may sound shallow but WD is right. What your uncle gave you, will always be with you.

Just make sure you don't loose those memories.

The Old Bag said...

My Unc is a special guy, who is still very alert and with-it, still has his sense of humor, still remembers everything...we've been very fortunate to have the conversations anyone hopes to have before a loved one dies. I'm sad for me, but he's ready.


rlove2bike said...

We wish you good luck. It sounds like he provided you with a link you so needed, and he also. I think you are both lucky to have each other.

C. P. said...


Bluenoser said...


That was just what I needed to read at this time in my life.


Emma Pod said...

..."And my uncle gave me an understanding of my mother and of her life and ultimately of myself." What a great gift! I'm so glad that you and Ken found each other and helped each other. I know you gave him a great gift as well...the gift of seeing his favorite sister's child grown up and getting to know her.