First, there was stillness. In an initial stage of shock or disbelief, I sat there. Then the anger and sadness rose and rose until it overtook every inch of my body. Why him? I could not understand.
“You’ve got a few years left,” the doc had told him. So, maybe I should have expected it. It was inevitable, but not to me. You see, to me my uncle was invincible, a man that was strong and that would not put up with anything from anyone.
But as strong and aggressive as he seemed, he had a soft spot that shined just enough. Had you passed by his neighborhood some fifteen years ago, you would find the only purple house in the vicinity. Purple was by no means his favorite color; on the other hand, his nieces intrigued by the joyful dinosaur that went by the name of Barney chose the color for him. So, my uncle painted his house that color to keep his word and to please his young nieces.
“You need surgery,” the doctor continued to explain. My uncle had his arteries clogged; he needed the surgery.
Four years later, my uncle had an RV, several trucks, and a home filled with valuables, such as stereos and bbq pits. He saw the irony in the ability to purchase all sorts of material items and the inability to pay for a heart surgery. The banks would not give him a loan for life, but instead would support him on living.
He took what the doctor told him and tried earnestly to find the solution to his financial problem, but there wasn’t one. So, instead everyday he went to work to secure the banks, and every chance he got he would make the most of what the banks could give him. He lived his life to the fullest, and didn’t let a soul outside of his family know that he was sick.
As I entered the funeral home, this rigidness overcame me. The memories of my uncle had been circulating in my mind the last few days, and I wasn’t sure that this was how I wanted to remember him. The only man that had ever sternly disciplined me laid there as we said our goodbyes.
The funeral washes away that initial feeling of disbelief, and grants the family and friends peace and acceptance. There was so much that I learned in the days after my uncle’s passing, so much that I didn’t know. The regret of lost time and lost memories lingered for a long time, but the good memories have come to surpass and they are what is left until we meet again. Tio Abel, may your soul rest in peace.