Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tic Toc...

You know, life can really suck sometimes. I guess I ought to start off by telling you about the weekend road trips I’ve taken over the last five weeks.
It all started out with an e-mail telling me my uncle Terry from Lyons had gotten seriously ill and was in intensive care at the Promise Regional, Medical Center in Hutchinson. My youngest son and I headed to Hutch to see him. He was really in bad shape and it was hard for him to talk but he did know who we were and I really believe he was glad to see us. I took that as a positive sign. My son wasn’t so sure. Anyway, the trip home that afternoon was pretty quiet.
A few days later I received another e-mail informing me that my uncle had been moved back to Lyons and was receiving Hospice care to make his final days as comfortable as possible. I drove out to Lyons the following weekend to see him one last time. He was still in really bad shape but like the previous visit in Hutch, he knew who I was and he knew his time was about up. We didn’t talk much. I did thank him for all the cool things he used to do for my brothers and I when we were kids. Then I told him goodbye for what I was sure would be the very last time.
Three days later I received another e-mail concerning Terry. I just stared at it for a while. It was one of those you really don’t want to open. But when I did, I learned that Terry had improved considerably and was being released from Hospice care. That prompted another trip the following weekend. When I got there he was sitting up in his wheel chair eating lunch. I couldn’t believe this was the same guy I’d just said my final goodbyes to just a few days earlier. We talked for quite a while that day. He was totally pumped that his Cardinals were headed to the Super Bowl. And he just as pumped about Obama being our new president. I stared to argue with him about that but figured there wasn’t really any point in going there. He asked about my wife and kids and wanted to know how my brothers were doing. I told him instead of telling him about them, we’d just all load up next weekend and he could see them for himself.
So we did. The following weekend fifteen of us in four vehicles headed back to out to Lyons. It was such a good visit. He was really proud of the fact that he was now a “great-great uncle.” And he started telling stories about me and my brothers when we were little. One particularly embarrassing, story involving yours truly, my grandpa, and what I thought was a bear trying to kill me really cracked him up. We took a bunch pictures and he made me promise I’d make him copies so he could show off his great-great nieces and nephews to his friends. I assured him I would and that I’d see him in a couple of weeks. And off we went.
I got up early last Sunday morning and like always, put on a pot of coffee and checked my e-mail. The first one was simply titled “Terry.” I guess I was expecting to find out he was still recovering and getting stronger by the day or something, I don’t know. Well, that’s not exactly the way it worked out. It was to inform me that my uncle Terry had passed away about three hours earlier and to assure me he had died peacefully. The news hit me pretty hard. I guess mainly because it caught me off guard.
I’ve had a few days now for the news to soak in so it’s easier to talk about. But I’ve also had time to realize that because my uncle has passed on, the designation of “family elder” has been passed on to me.
I’m not sure, but I think there’s a certain level of responsibility that comes with the title of family elder. I’ll do my best from here on out not to bring outright shame to my family and all that stuff. Also, depending on how you look at it, it kinda makes me the boss.
Problem is though, because time marches on, it’s just a temporary position. I don’t know how long my reign as family elder will last. But I do know, the countdown has begun. Tic Toc.
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  1. Hey Kevin sorry to here about your uncle. It sounded like everything was going good for a while. It's strange being older and looking out for the younger group. You know what they are thinking and the mistakes they are going to make because you did the same at thier age. But they have to learn the same way you did.

    One thing you did that I thought was really good was that you brought the family out. My grampa passed away less than a month after my son was born. He had alzhimers(sp) and probably didn't know me at the end. But I wished I would have let my son meet his great grandpa.

    My grandpa was one hell of a man. No indoor plumbing. For a while no elctectricity. Can you imagaine that. They made do with what they had. That was the man I wanted my son to meet. I suppose times have changed.

    Sorry to get into my life but again sorry to hear about your uncle. Family is everything.


  2. Thanks Open Road. You have nothing to be sorry for. That's why we're here in the first place, right? We all have a story to tell. And if that's the one you want to talk about, it's fine with me.
    Sounds like our grandpa's were a lot alike. Mine was born in 1909. Yeah, things were a lot tougher in those days. And like you I really wish he had been able to meet my own grand kids.

    That's the way life works though. We all have regrets and I'm finding out the longer you live the more you're likely to have.

  3. What makes you think anyone cares to read about your personal life stories?

  4. Dear, Sweet "Anonymous". (pat-pat-pat)

    Hey, Kevin. You reminded me of my mom telling the story of my fierce old Missouri Democrat grandfather as he lay dying in his home back in 1985. A little kid named "Bear" came in the house and asked whether he could have some dish soap. Grandpa told Bear to go ahead and take some from the kitchen sink. Then, that gave Gramps a little time to give Reagan "a little trouble," as my Kansas Republican mom called it. Something like, "I don't know what these women with kids are gonna do with a guy like Reagan in office, etc." He was gone within hours, but at least he had that last little go at politics.

    You've already found things to smile at, so far. I don't remember the exact words, but Garrison Keillor once said, "The death of an old man is not a sad thing." Lots to think about there, I guess.

    And, dear Sweet Anonymous-pooh, that's the point. It ain't about Kevin, here. Death is about every one of us.

  5. Loved your story about your granpa, Fred. Same with the one OpenRoad told us. You know, I think to most of us, our grandfather's have been the one person we could all look up to. It sure is true in my case. There was a time when he was about the only stable person in my life and I knew I could count on him no matter what.
    That's what I want to be. I believe it's very important and from here on out I'm going to be the best grandpa I can be. Besides, it's really a pretty simple job. Thanks for stopping by Fred.

    And now, to answer my anonymous buddy's question. To be honest with you bud, I don't necessarily write about what I think people want to read about. Don't get me wrong here. What I do is I write about whatever it is that's on my mind at the time. Mostly though when I write about something, I'm trying to at least get people talking.
    Of coures I want as many people reading my stuff as possible and I hope there are enough people interested in what I'm trying to say that at least read it whether they agree with me or not.

    Looks like it's working with you though. Sounds like you disagree with everything I write but you're still reading it. I'm just saying...

  6. Sorry to be so condescending to anonymous. It's one of my most cherished vices. I really have to watch it.

  7. You be just as condescending as you want Fred. Tell you the truth, I liked what you had to say. That's what I want here. I want this to be a place where people are comfortable saying whatever's on their mind.
    Compared to a lot of the anonymous bloggers I've seen this guy/gal seems pretty reasonable.
    Wrong as hell but reasonable.
    You guys have a good day. I have a huge box of old family photos to go through. It's been a rough couple of days...