My uncle died last Thursday. It was not unexpected. He had been failing physically for quite a while, and he had Alzheimer’s. And it was a “good” death…he went to lunch, said he was tired, went back to his room via wheelchair, laid down, and just went to sleep.
In many ways it’s a blessing.
And yet…it’s another link gone.
He was my mother’s only brother. Out of the five siblings, there is only my mother and one sister left–and they both have physical health problems. They are also both dealing with mental/cognitive issues–and, at least in the case of my mother, her memories are so scrambled and keep being revised (depending on what she pulls out of her mind) that I can no longer trust them.
I can remember some teasing in our family when the last grandparent died–that now my parents were the senior members of the family. But now it doesn’t feel so funny. We’re getting close to being the senior members of the family…and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. But are you ever?
His funeral is tomorrow. There will be some sharing by individuals who worked with him. (He spent 40 years (!) as an active minister in my faith tradition.) But it was even a bit of a struggle for my cousin to find those individuals to share. After all, when you’re 94, many of your contemporaries have died/moved away/have their own cognitive issues. Yet another reminder of broken links.
And yet, even as I mourn the broken links, I am reminded that the chain continues to grow. There are younger generations who are connected to this family chain. Not always in the way I would have liked–some have gone different directions in relationship to the Divine, and I regret that loss. But even in that different connection, they have brought new understandings, new perspectives to the family–new links in different colors.
And so–we will mourn tomorrow, but we will also rejoice in the connections that unite us, that make us one family…a family by blood but also a family by choice. Yes, one link is gone, but there are still many that bind us together.