Sunday, October 08, 2006

goodbye uncle


What a week it’s been!

It all started Monday about 3:00 p.m. I was setting up to bake a cake for our home group meeting on Tuesday when. E. happened to check his email. A note from his brother in Kelowna was there saying Uncle, who we knew was ill – terminally in fact – had just that morning taken a sudden turn for the worse. Though we’d earlier planned to make the 4-hour trip to Kelowna on Wednesday / Thursday, we decided to go immediately and were on the road by 4:15. We got to the hospital in Kelowna at 9:00 that night, only to learn that Uncle had passed away 30 minutes earlier.

Not surprisingly, the rest of the week took on a life of its own. The family scheduled the funeral for Friday morning. We made a round trip from Kelowna to Surrey and back to Kelowna on Wednesday, with about two-hours at home between journeys to pack the appropriate clothes etc. On Thursday E. worked on the eulogy and got together with the pianist to practice a song.

Then Friday morning we said goodbye to uncle.

This is Uncle Roy who, with Aunt Sally made us feel more than welcome when we moved to the coast in 1983. We enjoyed many an Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas meal together. They were like a second set of grandparents for the kids, making sure the little ones never lacked for treats (like gifts at Christmas or a stack of loonies or twonies wrapped in tin foil any old time).

Uncle and Auntie moved to Westbank about six years ago and Uncle seemed to want everyone in the family to migrate there, judging by his habitual sign-off: “From Westbank / Kelowna - everyone’s eventual retirement home.”

When I started my blog, in October of 2004, he read it! Though he never left online comments, often I’d get an email from him telling me, ever so tactfully, of a typo or lapse in grammar. Sometimes he’d comment in his own clever way about what I’d written – like the time I talked of the fact I had no peonies in my garden and apparently used the word "niggardly" in the piece. He wrote me back:

I am astonished to read your use of that perfectly good word "niggardly" inasmuch as it's currently so politically incorrect to use the N word in any context. I admire your courage and the taking advantage of literary freedom to do so in such a sad tale of your peony's or lack of them.

Sometimes in response to news of birds we’d seen on our walks, he’d write back with his own sightings of rare species:

*Spotted a couple of Glossy winged Thripes the other day. Marvelous song they have."

or

"We haven't seen any Robins thus far this year and cannot explain the curious absence of them, having seen many in previous years by this time. However we have seen Ruby- eyed Phalacrocoracidaes doing time on the Lake while enroute to Northern climes. They really are quite amusing."

So were you, uncle, so were you -- and so much more. You were a man of faith, and gallant, and kind, and principled, and resourceful, and helpful, and hospitable, and generous. And now you are greatly missed.

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