Two years ago my Uncle Richard passed away at the early age of sixty two. It was an unexpected loss in my family which made saying goodbye so much more painful. For ten years, my Uncle Richard fought a long and hard battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Being a former athlete, meant Parkinson’s took away everything he enjoyed doing. His body no longer cooperated as he would have desired and to him, that was the ultimate form of defeat. My Uncle Richard always said that he did not want Parkinson’s to be the cause of his death. Ironically, it was not what killed him, a heart aneurysm did. 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 ended. 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 me 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 absolutely correct.
Two years later, 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 that I have ever known. 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. However, since you have passed, I have managed to gather most of the birthday cards you have sent me and many pictures of you and I together when I was younger. It is a blessing to look back at these sentimental items and realized what a treasure it was to have you as my uncle.
Everyone in our family 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. It 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 wonderful 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. He is down to earth, kindhearted, and loves everything about me. To sum it up, he is everything I ever wanted and more. 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. I always understood the importance of family but I was never aware how limited my time may be with the people I love. 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 with 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,