In our lives, we have people who have lasting influence. Uncle Dick is one for me. He’s a retired principal from the elementary education system. Had he been born in another time, I think he would have been, in addition to the Exchequer to the King, a Poet-Philosopher.
Uncle Dick’s wife, my maternal aunt, recently passed away. Aunt Jeanne routinely helped others and nurtured Uncle Dick. He habitually complimented her positive qualities aloud, publicly. Her loss hit him hard. His children arranged for a Care Corps volunteer to keep an eye on him. The woman who showed up at his door had many of the characteristics of my aunt. Of her, he wrote:
The volunteer from Care Corps–
To ease the vacuum of losing Jeanne,
So much like Jeanne in her caring ways–
To me, Jeanne’s twin sister,
Born tardy, forty years late.
Uncle Dick appreciates humor. He sent me a quip about writing that made me smile.
The only way to create a sensation as an essayist these days is to write something mean about a cat.
He reminds me of the importance of awareness, being alive in every moment, at any age. Uncle Dick is in his nineties. In a recent newsletter that he sends monthly to family, under the heading “How to Think More about Sex,” he wrote:
“I quote from a book review for the author Alain de Botton, ‘Deep inside, we never quite forget the need with which we were born: to be accepted as we are, without regard to our deeds; to be loved through the medium of our body; to be enclosed in another’s arms.’”
Thank you, Uncle Dick, for giving me a living example of a love story, for demonstrating the power of language, and for teaching me how to live and laugh in the shadow of loss.