by Dawn Henderson
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My Uncle Tracy was always the type of person who would encourage everyone he met. It seemed like he had never met a stranger in his entire life. Everyone who knew him loved and respected him. He was actually my cousin related by marriage, but to me he was more like an Uncle. That's what my sister, brother and I had always called him. We all loved him and he loved us as well. We always knew that for sure because he was always telling all of us that he loved us. And it showed no matter what. To me he was a confidant, my rock, someone I could always count on in any situation that came my way. He knew how to bring out my best qualities as a person and make me smile at the same time. Half of the time I didn't know if he was serious or if he was just joking around, there was never a dull moment with him around. He always had some kind of funny joke or comment when he felt the need to be comical. We never knew what he was going to do or say next. He would keep us all guessing! He would always accuse my mom and his wife Nita, of “Men bashing.” Now, those are his words! There are so many memories I have of some of the craziest things he did to make all of us laugh. For instance, there was the time we were driving through Lubbock, TX, there was a lady driving in another lane well, my Uncle Tracy was told that he needed to be in the other lane. So he swerved a little and the lady in the lane next to us started to fasten her seat belt really fast. In the middle of all of this my mom had an asthma attack and started searching for her inhaler. That was the not so good part of course. He had a real wild streak at times. That's why we all loved him! He also had a side to his personality where he could be serious if you really needed him to be that way. There was the time we went hiking while we were at a summer camp. I am afraid of heights so he stayed with me the whole way down the mountain. Just about the time I wanted to give up he said, "I know you can do this." When I didn't believe in myself he always did. He always made things seem a lot easier than they really were. I don't know how he did it, but he did. The reason I am talking about my Uncle Tracy in the past tense is because on January 24th, 2008, he passed away. But before I go too far into that let me back up a little and give you more to the story. In October of 2007 our lives were changed forever when we found out that he had been diagnosed with cancer. He had been fighting it for quite some time before we even knew about it. I remember getting the news from my mom and at first I couldn't believe this was actually happening. Why? Was the first question that came to my mind as soon as I found out. I went through the stage of denial first, and then came the anger. I was angry that he was sick. The hardest part for me was knowing that I wasn't able to be with him when that's all I really wanted at that time. So many thoughts came to my mind during this time as well, I felt like my life would never be the same. And it hasn't been, I miss him so much. There isn't a day that I don't think of him and wish that he were here with all of us. He was always so strong in his faith, he knew where he was going when he passed away and he was at peace with that even though the rest of us weren't he was the strong one. He kept his faith, he never complained about the amount of pain he was in. We could all tell that he was in a lot of pain it was obvious. He was losing weight rapidly. He didn't look like the same person I had known all of my life. He looked like someone I had never met in some ways. I remember one of the last conversations I had with him before he passed away. We had watched a Dallas Cowboys game together earlier in the day and after the game we started talking and before too long the subject of his cancer came up. It was an emotional conversation and it really didn't take me long at all to start crying, he put his arm around me and just hugged me. That hug meant everything to me. I don't know how long that hug lasted but it didn't matter. All that mattered to me is that I was finally getting to be around him and spend time with him. I already knew the amount of time I had to spend with him was getting shorter because of him being so sick. It hurt to see him like that. But the concerns he had weren't about him at all; instead it was about me and how I was feeling about things. At the end of the visit he stood up to say good bye too all of us and he put his arms around me and gave me one more hug and started talking to me again. He told me "God will either heal me down here or take me home and heal me there." Then he asked me to promise that I would stay strong because that wouldn't be the last time we saw each other. I told him that I would try to be strong. That was easier said than done. On the way home from Carlsbad, NM, I cried the whole way home while my mom and I were in the car. I knew then that we were going to lose him. It broke my heart. I didn't know what it was going to be like without him. I knew that all of us were in for an emotional period of time. It was like a roller coaster of emotions at times. As the weeks went by he got worse and he deteriorated rapidly and his body started to shut down. Each day things got worse. We all knew that it was just a matter of time before he would pass away we just didn't know when. We all dreaded that day we got the call. Finally, the dreaded phone call came on that dreadful day in January. My mom got the phone call from one of my Uncle Tracy's kids informing her that he had passed away during the early morning hours. I woke up that morning around 6:30 am or sometime after and my mom was already awake getting ready to go to work. I went in to get my laundry out of the dryer so that I could start getting ready to go to school. The dryer is in my parent’s bedroom, as I was getting my clothes out of the dryer my mom gave me the awful news that I had been dreading. She told me that my Uncle Tracy had passed away earlier that morning. At first I didn’t hear what she had just said, so I said “What?” It just didn't sink in when she said it the first time. So she said it a second time. I remember I just started crying and my mom came over and just hugged me while I cried. In the end my mom decided that she wasn't going to go to work that morning. And I had already decided that I wasn't really feeling up to going to school so I e-mailed my teacher informing her that I wouldn't be coming to class that morning my heart just wasn't there at that time and I knew that I would not be able to concentrate on anything if I went to school that day. Instead my mom, sister and I went down to Carlsbad to be with Nita, Tracy's wife and their family. When we finally got there Nita was tightly clinching my Uncle Tracy's jacket. She didn't let go. A little while after my mom, sister and I arrived their pastor arrived and started talking to all of us. At the end of the visit the pastor prayed with all of us. We spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon in Carlsbad. We had to leave early because my mom doesn't like to drive home from Carlsbad after dark. The ride home seemed to drag on and on. Once again, I cried all of the way home as I had done the last few times we had gone over there. I kept trying to tell myself that I wasn’t going to cry all of the way home again, but it didn’t go the way I had wanted it to go. But I guess I just needed to cry. I learned that its ok to cry when you lose someone you loved. At first I was really embarrassed when I would start crying. The first time I cried over this we were at Taco Villa. Mom, Tasha, and I met Nita and Tracy and there family there and we had dinner with them. Well, when they were about to leave I just lost it. Then my tears turned into embarrassment when I remembered that we were in public. It had only been a short time since I found out Tracy had cancer, and I was still trying to come to terms with the news, it was a struggle. It felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders at that time. I was embarrassed mostly because I had cried in front of my Uncle Tracy, when I knew that it was something he wouldn’t wanted me to be worried about or much less cry over. But once the tears started it was too late to get my emotions back under control.
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Everyone needs an "Uncle Tracy" in their lives. It's wonderful that you had this man in your life.
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