Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Melancholy Day

Today marks the fourth anniversary of my Uncle Jim's death. He died peacefully in his bed in the house built by his grandfather in the beautiful Bronx. Two of my other uncles and I were staying there overnight, as he had a scheduled doctor's appointment in Manhattan the following day, and we had to get him there on a timely basis. My aunt, the family matriarch, was having knee replacement surgery at the time, so she wasn't holding down the fort.

My uncle had been seriously injured as a boy, and he had a residual fear of doctors that he never quite got over. Part of me thinks that he decided that he wanted to leave on a high note, at home, surrounded by family, rather than being poked and prodded in a healthcare institution. After sitting up watching one of his favorite movies, he went to sleep, and didn't wake up.

Two years ago, I posted a short eulogy I had written for the post-funeral gathering. My cousin Andrew read it for me, because I flew out to Switzerland a few days after my uncle's death to visit a newly-born nephew. The funeral had been delayed so my aunt could attend post-surgery, and my uncles could travel to their ancestral Bronx homeland. To tell you the truth, besides not being fiscally able to cancel the trip on such short notice, I needed to get the hell out of Dodge, so to speak. My uncle had been through a lot in his last months, and I spent a good portion of the day of his death recounting the medical history of his last two-to-three years. Needless to say, it was an emotionally draining day.

Today, I drove in a downpour to Nassau County, on Long Island, and had lunch with my cousin Andrew. Among other things, we reminisced about Uncle Jim, who my cousin likened to "our Paul Bunyan" because of his sheer physical strength (he could lay cinderblocks like mere mortals lay bricks). It's good to have a legendary figure to look up to in your childhood.

It's been a melancholy day, it even looks like a melancholy day, weather-wise.

11 comments:

Substance McGravitas said...

Part of me thinks that he decided that he wanted to leave on a high note, at home, surrounded by family, rather than being poked and prodded in a healthcare institution. After sitting up watching one of his favorite movies, he went to sleep, and didn't wake up.

Chosen or not, that's a fine way to go.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

My mom had a stroke in an art supply store, one of her favorite places.

She did fear the healthcare institution route.
~

vacuumslayer said...

Next time I come to this blog, I want to read about someone overcoming an illness.

Sorry for your loss and the sad anniversary, B^4.

wiley said...

Anniversaries can be powerful and a little melancholy can be the sweet grief of missing someone you loved for many years.

Your family sounds wonderful.

Brando said...

It's good to have a legendary figure to look up to in your childhood.

It is, and as sad as it is that you lost that legendary figure, it's great that you and your family keep him alive in your memories.

Laura said...

He sounds like quite a guy, he'd been through a lot.
At least he had a peaceful death. Sounds like he went out on his own terms which, is all anyone can ask for.

Nice of you to remember him on this day.

((Hugs))
Laura

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Chosen or not, that's a fine way to go.

That's what I thought.

My mom had a stroke in an art supply store, one of her favorite places.

I imagine that upset the other customers.

Next time I come to this blog, I want to read about someone overcoming an illness.

I got over my crippling ennui...

Your family sounds wonderful.

They're pretty awesome.

It is, and as sad as it is that you lost that legendary figure, it's great that you and your family keep him alive in your memories

We have a colorful history, which makes the "legends" all the more fun to transmit to the young 'uns.

He sounds like quite a guy, he'd been through a lot.
At least he had a peaceful death. Sounds like he went out on his own terms which, is all anyone can ask for


He never complained. He was a quiet source of strength for the people around him. I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with him- went down to the union hall with him when he put in his retirement papers, accompanied him to a lot of his doctor appointments, and hung out with him on his last day. He was a great role model.

Frivolous said...

I'm very sorry to read that, sir. Please accept my condolences on your uncle's death anniversary.

Another Kiwi said...

It was nice of you to tell us about Uncle Jim, he sounds like a good guy. You have a rich family life, BBBB

bbkf said...

belated hugs to you...your uncle chose his moment well...my dad chose this as well after being prodded and poked and medicated...and you're right...every family needs that larger than life person they look up to...i'm not going to read your eulogy because i do not want to bawl my eyes out at work...

Nomi said...

just sending a ( ( h u g ) ).