Cafe Hitch-hike


Going fulfilling a promise or dutifully making right

I sure hope what I'm doing is not some unconscious need to be the good kid for approval. I hope it's from a part of me that wants to do right by my uncle. I hope it's not out of a childlike fantasy of uniting my family, who are splintered by so many things, and that all will be harmonious afterward. I hope it is out of me wanting to use what I've already experienced with death and bereavement to help others make the transition of no longer having someone who was the heart of our family.

Although my family was nucking futs earlier this week, I understood emotions were going to run high. I thought I was walking into World War III based on what I was hearing before I arrived in Austin. I have no idea how I kept my cool (and better yet, how the family kept theirs), but the memorial service was excellent and everyone seemed to agree that Uncle Joe would had liked it.

Following Joe's wishes, Uncle Bert arranged the family-only service, and it included a deacon who blessed Joe's body and read verses before concluding with the rosary. I cried as we contemplated The Resurrection, but I found that part very comforting. When the deacon opened the floor so we could share words, I was able to get my bearings. No one else spoke, but I did...

...I thought of what Uncle Joe meant to me and others, and to multiple generations of our family. Although the eulogy was impromptu, I drew from recent conversations, thoughts and even writings on these pages. I acknowledged we were sad and it is a big loss, but the eulogy celebrated him and what he brought us:

"(He'd say) open your heart, open your mind, and have faith. Work hard, then enjoy life. Be humble, but have a little swagger, too."

The service ended with tears and smiles, but a lot more of the latter.

I wrote my uncle's obituary out of that same spirit although I was also delirious and struck with sad anticipation. I started it when he went into the hospital a week before my birthday, and I then made small changes to the draft before submitting it.

Now, I'm helping my mother settle his "estate," or make sure his remaining bills get paid and to fairly give away his few possessions. So much has happened so quickly...

But, this is a labor of love. I sense that he chose to trust me and my mother to close his affairs, and it is a spiritual duty to do it right because a part of me feels like this, too, is linked to his soul's transition. I felt with Remy that how a person is treated toward the end of their life and afterward makes a difference to them. I wanted to have it to where Uncle Joe's spirit can go in peace. I told Uncle a long time ago that I would look after him when he was older, but this goes beyond fulfilling a promise or dutifully making right. Maybe I am delusional, but I feel something sacred and true in all of this:

Uncle Joe, you walked with me and my mother though this life, then you entrusted us to walk you through the end of yours. Everything is going to be all right. We have this handled and can pick it up from here. You are an amazing soul who brought so much to so many straight from your heart that it is an honor to be a part of this and see it through. Be in peace, Tio, and yes, come see us in our dreams.

downwind | upstream