Today marks the fifth anniversary of my uncle’s passing. The weather is the same as the day he left us; rain, sleet and snow. It’s too early for winter, but somehow appropriate.
We discussed my uncle at my mom’s this afternoon while she and my daughter baked a German favorite, plachinda. I meandered between rooms, holding my grandson as we talked. Many things have changed in five years. Others are exactly the same.
I was on my way home from the grocery store, pondering what to make first; the roasted chicken or the caramel rolls my husband requested when I remembered the blog post I wrote about my uncle. I quickly put away the groceries and found the post. It still rings true, so I’ve decided to share it with you.
I hoped to be making my way through Colorado at this very moment, but I’m in my mom’s basement in North Dakota instead. Classes start in Albuquerque tomorrow. I’m going to be late, very late. My plans got thwarted by an early winter storm that still has roads closed, but I’m not alone. Mother Nature changed a lot of plans in the past few days. The first storm marked the passing of seasons, and in my family there was also the passing of a life.
My uncle, my mom’s brother, lost his life in a dimly lit hospital room, while rain turned to snow, splattering against the windows outside. He was sixty-five.
The phone rang at 4:45 Friday morning. It was his daughter. There was nothing more they could do. Sleep was forgotten as mom and I decided to drive a hundred miles to say our good-byes.
I felt like an intruder as I entered the grief laden hospital room. My chest hurt instantly as I absorbed the sorrow of everyone there. The happy man I knew was no longer present. Cancer had robbed him of his body, his spirit, and soon his life.
Tears and laughter mingled as stories were quietly shared. Periods of silence followed. Then it was time to leave, rushed along by the impending storm. It was a great honor and privilege to share this time together before his soul left his body.
More tears came.
This morning my mom and I stared at her computer screen looking at floral arrangements for the funeral. We googled funeral and all the flowers that appeared were beautiful, but they just weren’t right. We found ourselves discussing his personality. He was a happy man, light-hearted, kind, loving, and extremely generous. He was humble, down-to-earth, and easy to talk to. We wanted flowers that he would approve of, not something stuffy and over the top. A simple fall bouquet filled with rich earthy colors seemed to resonate with both of us. Happy with our decision we turned the discussion to ourselves. What flowers and colors would represent our lives?
My mom didn’t pick a flower for me, instead she saw bright reds and greens, with a non-traditional glass vase. I saw her life represented in delicate pastel flowers and lilies. We laughed, deciding we were a bit morbid, but feeling good about the conversation just the same.
And so it goes, the twists and turns of life. Good-byes mingling with new beginnings, while the change of seasons is reflected outside.
What color is your life?