Friday, July 24, 2009

A Visit with My Uncle

I had a brief visit with my uncle the other day. It was an impromptu visit. I was in his neck of the woods, called him up and asked for directions to his house. I'd never been to his house. He usually comes to visit us.

My uncle is a talker. He has lots to say about nearly everything. He can dominate a discussion, but when you do talk, he does listen.

Some of the things he says, he's said to me before. Sometimes the exact same wording. Doesn't make a difference to me though. What I don't say to him is, "You've told me that before." I like to hear him talk and tell his stories. He likes to have his say.

The topic on this day came before I could get comfortably situated on the couch: "I retired. I'm done." And so it went. He hadn't planned to retire at 63. "But I just don't have it. I don't have it anymore." Here's a guy who's worked very hard all of his life. His primary job has been working with asphalt. Yeah, that is a 'hard' job. But he loved it. Absolutely loved it. And he was good at it too.

And since the topic was his retirement, the topic was also why he retired: his declining health. That's why I'm writing this blog post. I've always seen my uncle as vibrant. He dresses nice and always look put together. Not that he didn't look put together when I went to visit, but he looked old.

He had a heart surgery recently. Something about a leaky valve. He says "I haven't been the same since ... I don't think I'll ever be the same". Since the surgery, he's been moving slow and he says he spends his days "do nothing". His teenage daughter says he's evil. She would say that. Now he's always around to needle at her. And he admitted that he's always on her back, usually for not answering her cell phone or not being where she's supposed to be. Teenagers.

I'd like to give her a few tips for dealing with him. He's been like my dad for over 40 years. I'd love to spend hours on end with him ... to hear him talk or to go fishing or to have him needle at me. She doesn't get it or appreciate him enough. And that's my advice: appreciate him. He's an ornery old man, but he's here for us to love.

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