Thursday, March 6, 2008

A St. Patrick's Day long ago!

The story about my uncle will live on with me forever..he was a great person. He was funny, and he had a huge heart. He was always there for me, and my whole family. I still miss him,and sometimes when there is good news, I still reach for the does not seem real that he is gone!! I miss him terribly!
For years I have celebrated my Irish heritage by drinking green beer and having a good ole Irish time on St. Patrick's day. One St. Patrick's Day comes to mind when I was in my 20's and living in GA. My Uncle Frank insisted that my friend and I hang out with him in Savannah, as we were going down already with my job on a training exercise. I guess he wanted to make sure that we were safe, so he booked us a hotel room in the hotel where he was staying with friends. Most people would have not wanted to hang out with an uncle of his age, but you had to know my Uncle Frank. He was a lot of fun..never a dull moment! He took my friend and I on an excursion to all the Irish bars, danced with us, drank with us, and took us to a late night breakfast in a really cool place. A person always felt safe with Uncle Frank because he looked like a mob boss!! He had a very strong presence that let people know that he would kill them if they bothered anyone that he loved. He had often threatened all of my boyfriends, even going to the extreme of putting one of them in a fighting chair on a yacht and threatening to pull the lever and make fish food out of him! The guy was a FBI agent!!! He also threatened to kill my husband on several occasions when we were fighting. It did not matter if it was my fault, he didn't think anything was my fault when someone was upsetting me!! He was a rough looking type who had the power to "buy" his way out of any situation! And many times over the years, he did just that! I have so many great stories of outings with my uncle, but this one is ironic because it is so sad!
My uncle was diagnosed with Prostrate cancer a few years back. To see him, most people would not believe what the disease was doing to him. He went from a cocky, overbearing person to a sick and fragile person in a matter of a few months. I loved him so much and it was so hard to watch. I would meet him and my aunt for lunch when he came to town for chemo, and it was so sad to see him suffer and go down health wise. He was a proud man, but he suffered so much pain until it broke my heart to see him looking so helpless. I wanted to shout up to God to spare him and to stop the suffering for one should have to suffer so much. He never let anyone know how much he hurt and he put on a happy face, but I could tell that he was suffering. We all went the extra mile to help him, but in the end, it was not enough. I remember the last time I saw him, he still managed to make me laugh. I bought him a cane. He loved snakes so I looked everywhere to find a snake handle cane for him. He teased me that I was lying when I left it in the car at the restaurant and told him that I had a special cane for him, but he was pleased to see it when I gave it to him. I also knew how hard it was for him to be in a wheelchair. I remember walking to the car with him ..he had a walker and moved around in a hurried walk, and hearing him say to me that he could walk without a chair, and then when I looked in the car and saw a wheelchair, I had to kid with him to keep from crying..I told him that he looked like a geriatric patient driving around with that wheelchair in the back of the that is why I had to get him the cane, to make him look like a sophisticated geriatric patient. We both laughed. As he went into the car, I knew it would be the last time that I saw him alive. His health had deteriorated in front of my eyes, and the last time I spoke to him on the phone later that week, he was dreaming of fishing. The meds actually made him think that he was at my house in Maryland on a boat. When he started to say goodbye to me, he told me he loved me. I had a gut feeling that it would be the last time that we would speak, but nothing could have prepared me for the call I got on St. Patrick's day..he had passed away on the very holiday we loved so much. For some reason, it made the news easier to bear. Even as I stood in my kitchen and sobbed, I was at peace because I knew that his suffering was over. He went on a special holiday, a holiday that he and I had so much fun celebrating years ago. I had alot of good memories! St. Patrick's day will never be the same for me, and for that matter, my life won't be the same because he took a chunk of my heart on that St. Patrick's day when he left our family. RIP Uncle Frank..we will never forget you!! I hope you are up there watching over us.

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