Two years ago my Uncle Richard passed away at the early age of sixty two. It was unexpected and sudden which made saying goodbye so much more painful. For ten years, my Uncle Richard fought a long and hard battle with Parkinson’s Disease. It took away everything from him that he loved because he was an athlete. His body no longer was coordinated as he would have desired and to him, that was the ultimate death sentence. Even though he no longer walks this earth, I find it fitting to write him a letter because he is still here in spirit.
Dear Uncle Richard,
When you died, I thought my world was ending. I will never forget that day for the rest of my life. I was napping on a Sunday afternoon and the house phone rang. I never pick up the phone because the calls are usually telemarketers. I heard the automated voice say that it was my Uncle Gary calling. I still ignored it because I assumed he was calling to tell my mom something. When I heard him say over the voice mail, that something had happened to you and it is a “code blue.” I awoke from being half asleep. Honestly, I did not have the heart to call back to hear the news that you were dead. At that point, I was assuming you were dead, I knew, I could just feel it. I cried and screamed, ran to the phone and called my mom. She was getting her nails done so she didn’t pick up, I called and called and called. Finally, my mom returned home to receive Uncle Gary’s voice mail. When she first tried to call him back, he did not answer. So she called Aimee and she knew nothing. Just as my mom was going to make another phone call to try to find something out, Uncle Gary called back. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face as she stood outside, answering the phone, and looking back at my through the glass door screaming, “he’s dead.” Instantly dropping to my knees, I felt like my heart had been ripped my chest and torn into a million pieces. My worst assumption was the correct one.
Two year later and not a day goes by that I have not thought of you. Someday, I hope I find the courage to participate in an organization that helps toward the fight to cure Parkinson. I promised in my eulogy about you that I would do that and unfortunately, I have not kept my word just yet. There are so many things I wish I would have told you or done while you were alive. I wish we would have been closer. I wish that I would have hugged you tighter the last time I saw you. I wish you would have known that I thought you were the greatest and funniest father to ever walk this earth. Now, I have to live with regret because I never did those things. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive my mistakes.
From what I know, everyone is doing well. Since you have passed, we have been to Atlanta three times, which is a lot considering before 2010, we had only come to visit once in nine years. In October, we will be traveling to Atlanta again to see your daughter make her bat mitzvah. I know how much you would have loved to be there. Each time we have visited Atlanta in the past two years, we have always visited your grave. Its hurts to look at your grave and see your name because til this day, it still does not feel real, not having you here.
As for me, I am doing fine and I am the happiest I have ever been. I have met a really nice guy, that you would have loved. He enjoys playing pool, so I know you two would have gotten along. Also, he is extremely funny- in a way he reminds me of you. I always thought, when I got married that you would be the one walking me down the isle. Even though that is not possible now, I hope that when the time comes, I will feel your presence around me and you will be proud that I have found love.
Your death changed me and made me realize how important my family is to me. As cliche as it sounds, you never know how long you have to spend with your loved ones so it is critical to make sure you make all your moments count. Your positive and free spirit is how I want to be and each day I am making strides towards becoming that better person that I desire to be. Thank you for providing me a father figure and role model for the twenty one years that I knew you. Please continue to watch over us and make sure to play cards with Bubbie and Poppy often. I love you with all my heart.
Love forever and always,
1. The word “fuck” was never an English term meaning “Fornication Under Consent of King.” It likely comes from the Dutch fokken, the German ficken or the Norwegian fukka.
2. “420” is not the Los Angeles police code for marijuana use. Some guys claim they invented “420” at San Rafael High School in 1971, when a group of stoners would go smoke under a statue every day at 4:20 PM, but who knows?
3. Napoleon Bonaparte was not short. Or well, tiny. He was 5’7’’, which was more or less standard height in 1821. His nickname le Petit Corporal was a term of endearment, and not meant to be taken literally.
4. There is no “real” you. If you treat people poorly, or start fights in bars, or steal, or hit dogs, or pick on the weak kid in school, you are not, nor can you be, “actually a good…
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