I feel kind of badly about this post, because when my father passed away in October 2015, I didn't do a blog entry for him. I'm not sure why, other than that by then I had had quite enough of writing posts about dead people. My mother died in December 2012 and I'm ashamed to say I haven't missed her for a single day. I didn't write anything about her until the following Mother's Day. In March 2013, Mr. B. got his cancer diagnosis and by the end of July, we began our Moyamoya Drama of Eternal Torment. In the middle of all that, our cat Jenny died, and then three months after Mr. B. died, our other cat Maggie died, which knocked me flat for quite a while. I got through all that, but by the time my father passed away in October 2015, I was out of words. All I knew was that it felt like the world had been toppled off its axis somehow. I'd gotten through all the rest of it, but this one just gutted me. Maybe it was just the wah-ferr-theen-mint given to Mr. Creosote in "Monty Python's Meaning of Life" that made the whole thing explode, but that was the one that made the world just seem wrong now somehow.
Dad was 90 years old when he passed. He'd beaten back aggressive non-Hodgkins Lymphoma twice. For four years I'd been telling people how he'd go for his R-CHOP infusions and then go to Longhorn for a nice lunch. He was well north of 80 but got through chemo without breaking a sweat. Can you blame me for thinking he'd be around forever? But I didn't write anything. I think I was just spent by that point.
My father had an older brother, Joseph. I'd thought that Unclw Joe too would be around forever. Joe was four years older than my father but he took very good care of himself. He did his own yard work till just a few years ago. He walked two miles every morning. He was sharp as a tack. He played cello and taught music. He'd spent the last few years caring for his wife Marion, a funny, clever, amazing woman in her own right, but she died a year and a half ago after 68 years of marriage, and I think in some ways he didn't know where his place in the world was without her, for all that he went back to teaching Osher Learning classes. At 95.
What I remember most is how much I always enjoyed being with them. I was younger than my cousins, but I always enjoyed being there. Joe was quiet and thoughtful and Marion was vibrant and funny and their house was always filled with laughter and jokes and quizzes around the dinner table, whereas the home I grew up in was full of fighting and screaming and drama. It was little things like that which got me through what was a pretty hellish setting in my own home.
Because Joe hadn't lost one iota of intellect, and he kept in shape, he never really seemed to age. He got smaller and thinner, but it seemed impossible that he could die. I used to say that Joe will never die; he'll just blow away with a light breeze someday -- after he turns 100. But that didn't happen. He became ill suddenly and died on Tuesday, barely a few weeks later.
It seems disappointing, somehow. It seems that if you're going to make it to nearly 97, you ought to hang on for 100. But I have that same sense of the world being off-kilter somehow. Because for my entire nearly 63 years, no matter what else happened in the world, and Goddess knows that chaos is ruling the universe these days, there was always Uncle Joe and his cello. Except now there isn't.