My mother sent me an email the other day that was short and to the point. Here’s what it said:
Three to six months for uncle Gene according to Dr. Frank. He heard yesterday. Arrangements for pain medication are being made so now there is not much to do but wait. He is ok mentally right now. Love you, Mom
This wasn’t surprising as my Uncle has been having health problems for several years and has been in the hospital more than once in recent months, but seeing it in black and white like that still drives the point home no matter how much you may have been expecting it. Mom is the oldest of four kids and the only female. Gene won’t be the first of her brothers who’s funeral she’ll attend as my Uncle Bob (whom my Uncle Gene says I bear a striking resemblance to) died many years ago when I was still a kid in a dune buggy accident up in Grayling, Michigan.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the news of my Uncle’s impending death. Of my mother’s three brothers he’s the one I was the least close to and the one I know the least about. This is partially due to the fact that I was scared to death of the man for most of my childhood and, thinking back on it, I have no idea why he frightened me. He’s a big man and his friends jokingly nicknamed him “Tiny” which was a level of irony I couldn’t grasp as a child. He was also very loud and boisterous compared to my other Uncles, but he never said or did a thing that would give me a logical reason to be uneasy around him. As I grew into an adult I became accustomed to my Uncle, but I’ve never really felt particularly close to him either. That’s entirely my own fault, though, as I never really thought to try. Not that we had a lot to say to each other as near as I can tell.
The fact that he’s in his final days has brought back that old familiar feeling of being an outsider for me. There’s that part of me that thinks I should be more upset about my Uncle’s condition than I am and while I understand that the lack of emotional impact is due directly to my lack of attachment, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve somehow made a mistake in not trying to develop that attachment. I know this is going to be very rough on my mother and I feel somewhat guilty that it won’t be that rough on me. If it were my Uncle Dan, the youngest of her brothers, I’d be much more upset because I got to know him the best.
I’m not sure I’m getting across what I want to say, but it feels like there’s a way these sort of things usually play out with everyone else in the world as though it were written down someplace and I managed to be out sick the day they taught us about it in class. I’m told that part of the feeling of being an outsider is normal for people who have ADD, as I do, but that doesn’t stop it from being… awkward. I wonder if my own siblings think less of me for not reacting “appropriately” or if other outsiders see me as being insensitive as a result. Not that it matters as I’ll continue being who I am regardless of what others think, but I still have this need to try to understand who I am and why I relate to the world differently from those around me. Even if I do manage to make heads or tails of my place in the world I have no idea how I’d make use of that information so I suppose this is all just rambling for rambling’s sake. Still I can’t help but feel I’m in the wrong in some way.
The best I can do is to hope that my Uncle’s passing is as comfortable as it can be considering his circumstances and try to be there for my mother if she needs me in some way.