Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Number One Uncle Teaches Lessons on Love

I have an uncle I deemed as my favorite during childhood. He is the husband of my mother's only sister and he is and always has been the one to go to for fun (or, as he, the Cajun boy would say, 'to pass a good time').

He's the one who taught me to play poker at the ripe old age of 10. He's the one who let my sister, cousin and me ride in the flat bed of his pick up when our mothers said 'NO WAY.' And he's the one who gave us a humongous jar of loose change he'd collected over the years and said we could keep it all if we rolled it.(We spent hours doing just that and ended up with enough cash to buy three tickets to a theme park). He's also the upstanding uncle who stood in line for several gruelling hours along with my sister, cousin and myself as we anxiously awaited the arrival of The Empire Strikes Back at our local movie theatre.

I spent much of my childhood discussing the finer aspects of the Muppet Show with this dear uncle and what new jokes he'd learned. He's also the uncle who introduced my own child to the likes of Sponge Bob Square Pants and the importance of rooting on his favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints. He is, in a word, irreplaceable.

All of these memories have flooded my heart over the last week as I stood at my favorite uncle's hospital bedside and watched helplessly as his life force seemed to slowly slip away from his body. Blood clots had invaded his system and his breath was jagged. He coughed when he laughed and his infectious smile had dimmed. He is the only father I have left and I am not ready nor willing to let him go.

Doctors said they couldn't believe he was still alive. They don't know my uncle. He's the one who survived tours of duty in Vietnam, slayed personal demons as well as the fantastical ones that my sister, cousin and I created.

He is an amazing soul and it's not time for him to go. He has more Sponge Bob to share and more Saints games to cheer on. I will never be able to repay him for the memories he's given me, nor the love. All I can say is I adore this precious man and I promise to remind him for the rest of his days he is an incredibly special Who Dat!