The large pine trees are reaching for the heavens in his front yard. The clusters of pale purple lilacs he loved remain, their fragrance fills the air reminding me, he is gone.
He felt that no one cared. I let him know I did. He loved to tease, “Stop that,’ he’d say when one of the children or I would smile at him. “Or you will get that smile all over your face.”
I enjoyed including him in family outings. He especially enjoyed eating a Big Whopper. My great-uncle often accepted the offer of having supper with us. His favorite meal was hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes. He would always exclaim, “an exceedingly good meal.”
Even though I was encumbered with my four kids, Uncle Dell one day brought me down his beloved space pen and his treasured old coins. He continually said , “I want to be with my dear old Mother.”
That particular day, I sensed something was terribly wrong. I was huge with child; I walked to my brothers home and asked, “please go check on Uncle.” My brother hurried to his house,telling me not to go inside, while I struggled to keep my pregnant body going.
He entered Uncle’s home and found him unconscious on the bathroom floor; Uncle had slit his wrist. My brother tied Uncle’s tattered red handkerchief as a temporary tourniquet. He yelled at me to rush the quarter block home and call the ambulance.
Uncle spent days in the hospital. When released, I willingly allowed him into our home to recover. I played checkers with him, “Gotcha!” I’d say when I took a jump, and smiling, he’d repeat it when he took a jump. I made vanilla pudding, took it to him in a fancy dish, as he sat quietly on our couch. I also made popcorn especially for him. His self inflicted injury really messed up his system. He was weak, but I enjoyed my uncle and was thankful he was still alive.
Then my firstborn son became extremely ill. He was lethargic. He wouldn’t eat or drink. He lay on a pillow in his bed, his pillowcase soaked through because he couldn’t swallow. I took him twice to his pediatrician, but he just didn’t get better.
My mother-in-law stated, “I am aghast you took such a sick person into your home with all your children.” But, Uncle had no one else. Quilt filled my entire being. I Prayed, “God, please don’t let me lose my five- year- old son. I only wanted to help Uncle.” Tears constantly threatened to overcome me in my helpless state.
In the mean time, Uncle was sent to Butterworth Hospital and diagnosed with lung cancer. Could my little son have gotten something from him? Tears were always close; tears of sorrow and tears of regret. Tears of not knowing if I caused hurt to my very own son, and shed tears pleading to God.
Beside myself with fear, I called Butterworth Hospital crying, “Please, this is an emergency. I must talk to my Uncle’s doctor.”
My uncle’s doctor was one wonderful, caring man. Salty tears slid down my reddened cheeks as the doctor stated, “You took a man into your home that had no one. No Ma’ma,, you didn’t do anything wrong. Your son could have gotten the sickness from school. You have no reason to blame yourself, just feel good for helping one in need.”
Tears, tears and more tears of relief filled my eyes as the quilt lifted. I dropped the phone from my hand, sliding down the side of our kitchen stove to collapse on our floor. “Thank you God,” I cried, as I felt everything was now going to be ok.
I again took my firstborn back to the doctor, for the third day in a row. The pediatrician concluded that my son must be allergic to the anti-biotic he had given him to clear up a slight ear infection.
Thus, my son bounced out of his sickness and I know in my heart that Uncle knew I cared and even with all the tears I shed, it was worth every drop to be able to show Uncle my love!