My Great Uncle Mike passed away yesterday in his home, with his lovely bride and family beside him. He was the baby brother in a family of ten siblings; he was a beloved Grandfather, Uncle, Father, and Husband.
I have more memories of Uncle Mike from my early childhood than I do presently, but the memory that will stick with me the rest of my life is from last weekend. Through a phone trail we learned that Uncle Mike had been admitted to the hospital again and was not doing well. He had been on dialysis for the past several years and had taken a spill a couple months back which resulted in injuring his leg, and through a series of events, lead to an infection that brought him back to the hospital. Graeme and I spent last Saturday crowded in an ICU room in Fullerton with about ten other family members, exchanging stories, memories, and helping Aunt Pauline with whatever she needed.
After everyone had left, Graeme and I waited to walk Aunt Pauline out. Uncle Mike had been heavily sedated and barely spoke throughout the evening, but when my Aunt Pauline told him she was leaving for the night to go home and get some sleep, he whispered “I love you” and stuck his lips out for a kiss. He had saved his energy for her. Aunt Pauline cried as she kissed him and whispered back, “I love you too, I love you very much”. I cried. She had told us earlier in the evening that leaving was the hardest part, having to say goodbye, and sleep separated.
I know Uncle Mike is in a better place, but my heart aches for my Aunt Pauline because this goodbye is now more permanent. They were partners in this life; in good times and not so great times. They were lovers, parents, companions, and more.
Goodnight Uncle Mike, we will all miss you. Hey Uncle Mike, will you do me a favor and tell Grandma Ginny I said hello when you see her and that even after 19 years, I still miss her.