Sometimes in life bad things happen. Uncle Tom died a little over a week ago. One day I hope to share with you the relationship that I had with him in person but just in case I better put some things down here now.
Uncle Tom was more than an Uncle. Uncle Tom was more like a father figure in a large portion of my life. Your Papa and I had some items that kept us away from each other. Your Papa and I love each other very very much. This is not a knock on Papa but simply something that I need to get off of my chest so that you can know why and what happened between your Uncle Tom and I.
Uncle Tom focused on the other. The first thing your Uncle Tom would do when he saw someone, no matter what was going on, was to ask a specific question about that person. For example, Uncle Tom would be in the emergency room. Someone would walk in and Uncle Tom would ask right away how they were and ask something about them in their life before they could ask about him. Uncle Tom did this time and time again giving no regard for himself but being interested in the other. This quality was something that I was drawn to when I was really young.
We would go to Uncle Tom and Aunt Sardy’s house each summer for the fourth of July and he would always be so interested in what was going on in everyones life. “Hey Buddy” became two very welcoming words.
I could sit and listen to Uncle Tom tell story after story. He always seemed to make us laugh and his laugh was so loud that everyone couldn’t resist but listen in. You couldn’t help but be engaged by Uncle Tom.
Some of the earliest times I was able to be alone with Uncle Tom that I can remember was a summer that I was at Uncle Tom and Aunt Sardy’s house (for a reason that I don’t remember). I was around six years old. I woke up and came down to the kitchen to find Uncle Tom reading the paper. He was waiting to make breakfast. He and I made a huge breakfast together and he made me laugh the entire time telling jokes and making fun of the silliest things. We had hash browns, eggs, and toast and lots and lots of fun.
That next winter he went skiing with us. I rode in his car from Colorado to Lincoln. The two of us just talked and talked and from a seven year old perspective I really felt important. We were able to go on a few trips together and he was just my favorite.
As the years continued through elementary and high school I always loved to go see Aunt Sardy, B and Uncle Tom.
More years passed and high school ended. Off to college I went. I was not in a good place. Luckily one summer I found the comfort of moving in with Aunt Sardy and Uncle Tom.
We had dinners together and I was able to listen and learn about myself from these two. After a few changes, I pulled it together and graduated college.
I became very worried the day I heard that he wasn’t feeling good. I knew that he was dealing with something for some time and I just did not like it. I wanted to do everything I could to help one of my favorites.
Unfortunately, my memories aren’t the best. But here are things that I do remember. I do remember jumping up and down after I received a call from a hospital that did some testing. I was in the Lincoln airport and someone from Omaha called to let me know that I could help out. I was jumping up and down and people around me probably thought I was nuts. I remember nervously calling my boss to ask him for some time off and the relief I felt when he said yes.
I remember oatmeal. We would order the same breakfast of oatmeal. I’m sure it wasn’t that great of oatmeal but when you eat with Uncle Tom it is great oatmeal. Several mornings we shared a room having our oatmeal in the morning at the Hospital.
I know that there are so many many more memories. Most are filled with large amounts of fun and laughter. Others are full of despair. The memories that weren’t the best all have a silver lining that Uncle Tom brought about.
After my brain injury my first memory that I have is of Uncle Tom. I must have woken up at some point either in the night or early morning. Uncle Tom was sleeping in a recliner by my hospital bed. This was my first documented memory. I think thats when I knew I would be okay.
Many moons later, after I had come home and been going to several doctors, they decided that I should go and stay at Uncle Tom and Aunt Sardy’s house for a while. (Let me preface this and say that I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to just stay there but I just can’t do that) . I convinced My Uncle Tom and Aunt Sardy that it was okay for me to go back home that night. Uncle Tom agreed to drop me off at a neighbors house who worked in Lincoln. This was probably around 10:00 at night. When I got home I fell asleep on our couch. I remember waking up at some point in the middle of the night to see my Uncle Tom asleep on another couch in our house. Uncle Tom had found out that I had tricked him and he drove all the way to Omaha in the middle of the night to stay with me. To this day I want to bop myself on the head for doing that to them and having my Uncle drive all the way to Omaha in the middle of the night. I just cant believe how lucky I am to have Uncle Tom in my corner.
We did a lot of things that normal Uncles and nephews don’t normally do. He was my best friend, a confidant, a big brother, and a father all wrapped into one. I was lucky enough to call him my Uncle and boy how lucky was I to have the relationship that we shared.
I don’t know what life is like yet without you Uncle Tom. So far, I’m just mad. I’m mad that you are not here. I’m mad that I didn’t tell you enough or ask you enough or call you enough or see you enough. I’m mad that life is like this right now. You are suppose to be here. You are the one that tells me when its a really good idea or if I should just pass. You are the one I need to brag to about when I did something great. They say it will take time. I don’t want it to take time because I don’t want you to be away from us. I want you here.
I just need to keep reminding myself how lucky we all were to have you and to still have you. But again, you are still suppose to be here.
The light is that we all had you on earth as you set a life that we all need to try for. I’m just not ready to let go.