Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Passages

My uncle passed away this morning.  His death has been months in the making.  Back in June, he suffered a massive heart attack.  He had warning signs for almost a week prior to the actual attack.  His heart stopping beating during the ambulance ride to the hospital, twice.  While the doctors tried to stabilize him in the hospital in preparation for open heart surgery, he suffered a second heart attack.  They performed a triple bypass on him on the 4th of July.

After he survived the open heart surgery, we expected that he would make a slow, but steady recovery.  He did not.  Instead, he seemed to take one step forward, followed by two steps back.  His lungs, which evidently had been diseased for years, began to fail.  The doctors tried everything they could think of to help him.  In the end, there was nothing more anybody could do.

His family has faithfully been by his side, day after day,  for two months.  My cousin cooked meals and brought them to the hospital for him daily. He always was a picky eater.  This was not the end he wanted, nor the end anyone could want.  When the end finally came this morning, it was a blessing for both the family and him.

My uncle hated doctors and hospitals.  He did not take particularly good care of himself. He ignored the warning signs his body had been giving him for years.  He had diabetes.  He had heart disease. He had lung disease.  He had reached the average life expectancy for a man in the United States.  I guess he figured that he could live on pure stubbornness alone. He would not have wanted the quality of life that was ahead of him, even if he had survived.

Knowing all this does not make his passing any easier for those family who are left behind.  My aunt has lost her husband, my cousins their father, his grandchildren have lost their grandpa, and my dad has lost his only sibling.  While the family had time to say their goodbyes, it is still difficult.

Life will go on without him, although we will miss him. His granddaughter will still be married on September 24.  In our hearts, we will know and most probably feel his presence there with us.  But, we will miss his boisterous life-of-the-party personality. New babies will be born into our family, and resemblances may be noted.  But, the children will grow without the benefit of his goofy jokes. Such is the cycle of life.

Every day, families throughout the world go through this very same process.  People are born, and people die.  Take time today, as I have, to count your blessings.  Hug  family and friends that are nearby, and confess your love to those far away.  Take stock in where your life is, and where it is going.  Think about the mark you made on this world today.  Those who have gone before us, like my uncle, have entrusted this life onto our care.
Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

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