The Hubs Aunt and Uncle live here in town. Across the city, but same city none the less. His three cousins and their kids all live here too. Scattered around, but we are all here. Would you believe that we haven't gotten together with them for years? Years. Not weeks or even months. But we always mean to. Its a simple thing. To pop out on a Saturday or Sunday for dinner and a visit. In our younger married days we had done it plenty of times. We used to hang out with them. I went to Bible study with Aunt D and he would help Uncle P build new stairs on their back porch. I remember spending one whole afternoon with her watching Sumo wrestling from Japan on TV, trying to figure it all out. They always had good advice and were a great example of a wonderful marriage. We would go to Grandma and Grandpa's for holidays, then visit Grandma and Grandpa in the care home together in their older years. There were always lots of laughs and a lot of love. So why don't we get together?
No real reason. Just life I suppose. We go to all the weddings, gush over the new babies, send Christmas cards, the usual stuff. But they could be in Florida for that. Not across town. Our kids were growing and as we started our family their kids starting getting married and having kids too. Everyone gets too busy. And at these weddings and events we all always say the same thing...."We need to get together!" And we do...need to at least. But we never actually do it.
Then Facebook came along and it was so easy to think we were actually in touch, when we weren't. So easy to think we were keeping up on the family, but not really. So easy to fool ourselves. And we would message each other over random, unimportant things, and of course, say "We need to get together!" But we don't.
Then in March the call came. Uncle P had terminal cancer. All the more awful given that he was only 67 and not in terrible health. He had Guillain-Barre syndrome, but was on the road to recovery after beating the toughest parts of that. His youngest son was getting ready to have his first child, their 8th grandchild.
So today we all did what we have been meaning to do. We got the family together. At his memorial service. He was well loved and there were hundreds in attendance. A full military salute for his Marine Corps service in Vietnam. It was beautiful and awful at the same time.
And we all were there, doing what we do best. Hugging and exclaiming over the growth of the kids, while telling each other that we really need to get together. At a different time. When we can visit, and laugh, instead of cry.
I don't know when that will be, but I not only mean to do it.....I will. And tonight, as I sit and think about all the time, the years that have passed, I am spending some time thinking about what other things I have been "meaning" to do, and how I am going to go about making them happen.
It is, perhaps, his parting gift to me, from a life that was so full of love and grace, joy and happiness, that the hole he has left is large, even for those of us on the fringes of his physical presence. The difference he made in my husbands life, the contribution he made to helping him understand what it meant to be a man after his parents divorced cannot be measured. He is the one who brought him in to a construction job, looking out for him, and started him on a life long career. It is safe to say that my husband would not be the man he is today, the husband he is today, or the father he is today without his uncle and for that I will be eternally grateful to him.
And to paraphrase the popular song..."I will tell him all about it when I see him again."