Two Sundays ago, my mother let me know that my Uncle Calvin was not expected to recover from lung cancer, and that he would be moved into a hospice room and given morphine until the end. The next morning, mom called to say that Uncle Calvin had passed away.
I spent last week (the days, at least) in a somber sort of haze. By sheer coincidence, I had finished Kurt Cobain’s biography “Heavier Than Heaven” – a very good book – AND season 5 of Buffy, during which her mother dies and Buffy herself swan-dives to her death, right before Uncle Calvin’s death. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have been affected by Uncle Calvin’s death without these things in my head. Obviously I would have been affected by the death of a family member no matter what. But I had all of these heavy mortality issues and questions on my mind beforehand, and they kind of stuck, while I was working, while I was home alone.
As I’ve mentioned before, the healing power in my family tends to be laughter. I definitely had some good cries, and I know other family members did too, but we were also remembering all of the hilarious things he said, and the good times we had. For me, it was a gruff Uncle Calvin, telling me that he shot and ate the Easter Bunny, so there would be no Easter. Or that he shot Santa Claus, so there would be no Christmas. Or, when I asked why he was missing half of one pointer finger, that he got hungry and bit it off, with a snap of his teeth for effect.
The wake was on Thursday, and there were pictures of Uncle Calvin all over the front of the room, and flowers all over the place, and the funeral home was full of people who had loved him, or at least liked him a lot. I saw a lot of extended family. Indeed, one of my cousins kept saying, “I haven’t seen you in years!” and staring at me like I was an alien who might disappear at any moment.
The funeral was on Friday, and then a gathering at Aunt Bonnie’s sister’s house. A huge, gorgeous backyard for my nephews to run around in, a big spread of food, some beers, and more talks about how awesome Uncle Calvin was. A lot of laughter. Izaak gave Aunt Bonnie and her family a taste of his awesome “Talking Stomach” bit. Owen was just acting flat-out crazy. And Nicky and I gave Aunt Bonnie big hugs before we left.
The rest of the weekend was your typical Memorial Day stuff – picnics and running around with the kids and some fishing. Lots of deviled eggs. Delicious, delicious deviled eggs.
I’ll miss you, Uncle Calvin.