Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Uncle Al

"I just called to let you know, they put your uncle on the ventilator yesterday," Mom said.

A lump rose in my throat. I thought about Al's ornery smile, how it would creep across his face behind that old tobacco pipe. His quick wit had always made family get-togethers entertaining.

I knew he'd been ill; I could see it in his eyes at Grandma's birthday party in June. Despite the disease slowly suffocating him, he had joked with all of us.

"He has pneumonia," Mom continued, amazing me with her strength. How was she holding back the tears so easily? If this was my sibling, I'd be in pieces.

"What are the chances that he'll pull through this?"

She sighs, carrying the weight of her sorrow through the phone line. "Not good. Even if he does pull through, it will happen again, and it will be worse every time."

I tried to remember my last asthma attack, the pain and frustration I felt last time I had pneumonia, how walking up the stairs left me winded, how the whistle inside my chest kept me from sleeping.

Visions of my grandma at Uncle Al's bedside flittered through my mind. It led to memories of the silent tears that rolled down her cheeks as I stood with her at grandpa's grave nearly a year after he'd passed. I couldn't imagine the pain she must feel now, facing the loss of a son.

I swallowed hard, knowing Mom would break down if I did. (There are few things worse than hearing your Mom cry and not being able to hug her.)

"I don't want to let go of Uncle Al, but I don't want to see him suffer either," I said after several moments of silence.

In my head, I calculated his age, realized he's only two years older than Mom, that he won't get to see any of his grandchildren get married or graduate from high school. It was too much; I had to end the call before I broke down.

I told Mom goodnight and laid the phone in its cradle.

Why does life have to suck so much sometimes?


KM Wilsher said...

wow. . . yeah. prayers, Kat.

Annie Louden said...

I'm sorry. :( My thoughts are with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it does suck sometimes, doesn't it? Kat, I'm praying for you. I'm starting to realize my mortality...my last grandparent died a couple months ago.

Now, it's just my parents left...and I'll have to take care of them like they took care of their parents.

Sucks sometimes, doesn't it? Press on, my sister, you have Christ as your rock.

Eva Gallant said...

And it sucks worse as you get older; I've lost both parents, a sister, and 2 brothers-in-law.

But that's the life cycle...from dust to dust... The idea is to make a big stir while you're here! Sorry for the sadness, Kat. My thoughts are with you. It's never easy.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Kat - My heart goes out to you, and to your mom and your grandma.

ElanaJ said...

Kat, I'm sorry. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way.

And life sucks sometimes, so you know how much is DOESN'T suck sometimes.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

That's the question my catechism kids ask -- and I don't have a good answer for them. I am hoping to find some help in a book I just purchased but have not yet read: If God Loves Me, Why Can't I Get My Locker Open?

Jill said...

Yeah I kept thinking about Grandma and my mom being there and I just broke down and cried. My favorite memory of Uncle Allard is when I was little. He was at our house and we had two play guitars, a Snoopy and a Dukes of Hazard guitar. He grabbed one of them a proceeded to sing Elvis' "Hound Dog" to Marsha and I. I will never forget that!

Anonymous said...

Kathy, My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.