Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Passing of my Uncle Dick

My Uncle Dick was very special to me. When I was about eleven years old, I wanted a pen pal. I had just learned how to write letters to people through English class. I am sure that between e – mails and texts now children learn much earlier now. Anyway, I wanted a pen pal and I looked in one of my “little kid” magazines and it said you had to have five dollars to get a name of another kid across the country. I am sure now that five dollars isn’t a lot, but back in the early nineties it was. Thus, it started; I looked on our family’s kitchen table and saw a letter from my Uncle Dick. Now as long as I could remember my Uncle wrote my parents and then wrote a paragraph for me. My parents had busy lives and didn’t write him very often. However, me, like I said, wanted a pen pal. So began a letter writing spree of letters once a month between a little girl and her Uncle. Now for the next eighteen years I would write once a month and my Uncle Dick would write back!

At the beginning of this year, I think my oldest Uncle, my Uncle Dick new something was up. He would write me instead of the usual one letter, a letter every other day. He wouldn’t mail them until he got his Social Security check, but I would get them all (about fifteen) from him in the beginning of the month. He was writing less and telling me that he couldn’t remember from day to day. Then it happened. Last Monday, my Uncle Bill called my Dad. (Both my Uncle Dick and my Uncle Bill are my father’s brothers). We happened to be in the car on our way taking my Dad to work. My Dad pulled over and talked to him (you can’t drive in NY and talk on the cellphone). I knew it was about Uncle Dick and my Mom was squeezing my Dad’s hand and asking him if Dick died. My Dad got off the phone and told us. It wouldn’t be later that evening until I talked to my Uncle Bill myself that I would learn how my Uncle had died. My Uncle Dick, who was going to be seventy – two in August, died alone in his apartment because he had an infection that caused all his organs to shut down.

Now this raises a lot of question for me. First, what is the difference between grieving and being symptomatic? When I cry do I take it too far? I had to learn this when my Grandma died in 2005! I think the most important thing is to talk about the grief with someone no matter if it’s a friend, family member, higher power, or even an animal! The Second question, am I going to die alone? Will I be like my Uncle and have someone find me in a chair slumped over fighting to stay alive, but already died? I surround myself with friends. Also one thing I will always have is a phone. That’s the reason my Uncle Dick wrote to us because he had no other means of communication. No he wasn’t deaf; he just didn’t like the phone. Third, will I have made enough difference in the world that I would have five concerned family members cleaning out my apartment once I am gone? I guess all I can do is be me, let go, and let God do the rest!


  1. Amanda, I burst into tears reading this, not only because it's sad your Uncle has passed, but also because I am so touched by the sweet relationship and correspondence the two of you shared. Sometimes I feel sad for the world because letters aren't written any more, and no-one will ever find a box of old emails and be inspired (well, it's unlikely!).

    I think you give sound advice, to talk about the grief and relive memories of the person we've lost. It helps to keep the grief separate to the depression, in my opinion anyway.

    My heart goes out to you, LA, Uncle Dick looks and sounds like one of life's true characters.

  2. I'm so sorry that your uncle passed away. You shared a special connection that I'm sure will bring comforting memories. *hugs*

  3. XXX
    Thanks guys!

    Borderline LiL. I try to write with emotion so if you could feel the emotion that is good. You're write old fashion writing is awesome and my pen pal is now gone:(

    You're right Drifter, my memories comfort me. My Uncle Dick told me that I was his favorite niece in one of his last letters. He said that it wasn't just because I was his only niece. He did have a good sense of humour;)