Ponderings

On love and loss and family and heroes

It’s been so long since I last wrote that I wasn’t sure I could remember how to log-in.  But it’s the wee small hours and I can’t sleep and something is telling me the only way I’ll be able to nod off tonight is to get these thoughts and feelings down in whatever rambling form they take.

People close to me know that my Dad is my hero.  He’s one of the strongest, wisest, smartest and most genuine men I have ever known. I’ve started many a post about my Dad, but somehow can’t get close to getting the words right.

And tonight my heart is breaking as one of my Dad’s own heroes has left us. 

Last night my beloved uncle lost his long-fought battle with cancer.  The fact that the inevitable was going to happen doesn’t in any way make it easier.

Uncle Gary was one of those incredible people whose gift to all those lucky enough to know him was his presence.  I don’t mean simply in that we were blessed to have him around, although we most certainly were.  I mean that he had the rare quality of being truly present in the moment.  Truly present with you.  You hopefully know what I mean – you know those exceptional people who somehow let you know that they see you.  They really do.  They are listening, they are genuinely interested in you.  The room could be filled with a thousand other people, but in that moment, you are the centre of their focus.  You matter.

It’s a gift.  An intrinsic quality that Gary had, and one he shared with everyone – it was just his way of experiencing the world.  And that has been one of the biggest lessons he taught me.  The greatest honour you can give to any one, and the greatest gift you can give to yourself, in fact, is to be present.  It’s a soul thing.

And in the end that is what I am left thinking of when it comes to trying to process Gary’s death.  It is indeed a spirit thing.  He’s left us all, but his legacy reaches far and wide. When I think about their house when we were growing up, it was always full.  Full of noise, full of laughter, full of extended family and friends who gravitated to this crazy accepting busy generous household.  I know right now there are people all over the world who are thinking about what Gary added to their own lives, in a million different ways.

His children, my cousins, are remarkable.  They represent the best of their dad, each in different ways.  And Mem, my aunt – I’ve got no words right now.  Her strength and grace will stay with me forever.

And my Dad.  I know he’s as admired and revered by my cousins as Gary was by my brother and I, and that they make him as proud as we do.  Pa has lost his brother.  His great friend.  And yes, one of his heroes. And the quote at the top of this post makes me cry and smile at the same time because it is so true.  They knew each other’s souls in a way that only siblings can do, and they both ended up becoming great men who have made a difference in the world to many many people.

I realise how lucky I am.  How lucky my whole family is.  We have connections that are true, and love that is unconditional.  Time passes and life happens and joy is found in unexpected moments and grief threatens to overwhelm us all at times.  Distance separates us but memories link us and love anchors us together.

Many don’t have what we have.  Many families have never had an Uncle Gary.  We have.

Tonight, despite our loss, I hold on to the knowledge that we are the lucky ones.

“ To the outside world we all grow old.

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