When I was a kid my parents shipped me off to spend summer with my aunt. Actually, I would fly from California to New Jersey, but I liked the way “shipped me off” sounded. I loved staying with my aunt.
It was hot and muggy and my Aunt Roe would spend most of the day looking like one of the rejected sisters from Cinderella. Then in the late afternoon she would say, “I need to get ready before your uncle gets home.” The “messy duckling” would transform into a beautiful swan by the time he arrived home.
I never really gave it much thought but I realize now that I often do the same thing. The evidence shows that what sticks the most as we parent is what we do and not what we say.
My Uncle Joe left this world four years ago. His name was Joe DiMaggio—no joke. No, not the famous Joe DiMaggio, but to me he was better than famous. Uncle Joe was bigger than life. He would call me on a regular basis just to let me know “I was his favorite,” which he probably told all of us—but it did make me feel special. He had a way of doing that. He loved Sponge Bob and he introduced me to cookie soup (cookies broken up and layered in a glass and then filled with milk).
Watching my aunt live the life of a widow, which is one of my biggest fears, has lessened that fear just a bit. And by the way, she still dresses up each day, probably in his honor. While visiting with her she told me something about my uncle’s passing that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Minutes before he died he struggled to tell her something, she said he became angry as he tried to mutter the words but couldn’t.
What was it he was trying to say?
I have decided to fill in that blank.
I believe he wanted to say, “It is okay, I am going home now. I’ve made my amends with God and you need to do the same. I have loved you for over 47 years here on earth and I will be waiting for you in heaven.”
Why do I think this? Two weeks before Uncle Joe passed away he called me and we prayed together.
“I need to get ready before your uncle gets home,” echoes in my mind as I think about him residing in his eternal home, and the reality that we all need to get ready before we go home.