My uncle is dead.
I understand that I’ve been opening things on a rather personal note lately but it has to be said. My uncle is dead. He passed away yesterday night, his body finally succumbing to stroke’s initial attempt on his life. In some ways, the knowledge of his passing is a curious relief. According to my mother’s last report, the stroke had completely incapacitated his right side, induced severe brain damage and forced him to consume his meals through a network of tubes. Sustained existence - the notion of calling it ‘living’ bothers me on so many levels - couldn’t have been pleasant. If nothing else, at least he’s no longer caged in his own recumbent bones.
His funeral is on Monday but I won’t be there. While they’re burying him, I’ll be on a 36-hour flight back home which kills me because, while I question the value of paying last respects to someone who is as far as from cognizance as a fish is from space travel, I’d like to have that chance to give an eulogy of some variety. So, I’m going to do it here, instead.
(I thought about discussing how Death is an elephant in the room that we all tiptoe around, how we constantly coo over games featuring realistic death scenes but fear its coming.)
My most salient memory of my uncle isn’t necessarily a flattering one. He was in need of financial assistance and had come to my family for help. My parents, in spite of the fact they did not terribly like one another, had been more than happy to lend a hand. Having nothing to give my family in return, he decided to capitalize on his one skill. He was a great English teacher. His students uniformedly got the best grades in the country. As such, he wanted to help make their oldest better an English speaker. Sometime during his visit, he asked me to sit down and began imparting his wisdom. The session lasted about two hours. In the end, he casually asked,
"How well do you normally do?"
”.. I get over 95% every examination.”
My parents giggled.
I remember feeling exceedingly apologetic. He looked mortified.
"It’s the thought that counts?" I offered, meaning every word.
He could only nod.
Is there a point to this story? Not really. Selfishly, I want you to remember him too. Each and every one of us will die twice. The first time is when our biological systems shut down and brain activity ceases. The second time is when all memory of that person fades from humanity. So, here’s to hoping at least a few of you who read this will remember my story for a little while. And that there was someone who tried hard to be worthy to his relatives.