Archive for January 2009

R.I.P UNCLE B   4 comments

 gold-cloud1

Some people say that psychic connections between people are the stuff of foolish talk; some kind of ethereal sensibility tossed down through the ages from folklore and near-death experiences that became the stuff of legend.

For me, its pretty real.

I talk to my parents pretty often, but when I’m busy and time lags, there are the occasional spans of weeks that may pass without a real conversation. Two days ago, I felt a pressing need to speak to my father. I felt that something was wrong, and that I needed to chat with him. Something was tickling my subconscious, even though I don’t necessarily sit and giggle on the phone with my father for any length of time.

Tonight, after coming home from a long day, I noticed a funky smell wafting through the air. An annoying rodent apparently, had met its demise in my roommate’s room. I spoke to her about the logistics of removing the rodent (she was in the bathroom preparing to head out) and then my phone buzzed. It was home calling.

I flipped open the phone and said hello, immediately forgetting the smelly situation. It was my mother, and her voice sounded calmer, and little more subdued than normal. I usually receive a chirpy, “Hey Marcus, how are yah!” in a tone of voice that could fit any female motivational speaker.

I flopped on the bed in my room and we spoke about the simple things, the day and so forth. She told me that she received my message (I had left a message on the phone saying I wanted to talk to my father). Then, she said.

“Did I tell you that uncle B had gone into the hospital recently?’ she asked

“Hospital?” No, I replied.

“Well, he went into the hospital last week… and he didn’t make it.” She said.

“Wow.” I replied. “Wow.”

Whenever I think of my Uncle B, affectionately called “Uncle Boysie”, my first memory of him is being described as a world traveler. As a child I gleefully touched the large scars on his arms, each one marking a different vaccination from a different part of the world. “Do you know who Atlas is?” Was one of the first questions he asked me. “Atlas, “ he said, “Is the man who holds the world on his shoulders.” He had said with a laugh.

He had a short stature, but a strong resounding voice, the kind with an English inflection from thirty-odd years of living in England, which still had the gentlest touch of his original Jamaican accent. Like my Grandfather, who passed away a few years ago, he is one of the few people I have never seen angry, never seen curse. There was always a smile on his face, and candies in his suitcase for myself and my sisters when he would arrive from England.

In my last conversation with him, he congratulated me on graduating from University, and wished me all the best in my future endeavours in life.

When my mother said the words, “he didn’t make it”, I didn’t feel a crunching sadness envelope me. Like my Grandfather, he was a man that had lived. I have endless memories of his laughter, traveling to the country with him as he told stories from his youth and watching his eyes gleam with pride as he saw how well his family was doing.

As 2008 turned into 2009, I felt as if I wouldn’t have the need to write much anymore. I had unofficially retired this blog. There are many things deep inside me that I have struggled with to overcome. Some I can control, and some I cannot. But I have an intimate relationship with death, and I appreciate what it means. When people around you die, you learn to treasure the moments you had. You treasure the laughs, the smiles and their idosycrasies. You learn to treasure something about yourself as well.

You treasure the things and people you’ve lost, and you try to regret less and do more. Today, I’m feeling that way again.

As he grew older, my Uncle B traveled less because of illness. But whenever he was healthy enough, he would come straight to Jamaica, and spend a few days at my house before departing to the country, where my Aunt built a house in the area she grew up.

I feel it for my father, because he was one of his closest and most beloved friends. January seems to ring with a particular tone of death for him, as his parents and now uncle, have all died in the month of January.

Whatever echo from the cosmos sent a signal to me while I was going about my day in Washington DC, reminds me of that deep intrinsic connection we share. I felt as if my father needed something, some words, a touch, a conversation. At the time, I didn’t know why, but when my mother told me the news, I understood it. My inkling of a feeling, the sense that my father might not be completely happy, had weight attached to it. Many times these things might happen to us and we ignore them as coincidences or trite circumstances. We feel that our lives are completely governed by the steps we take, that we are completely individual.

But are we?

I will always remember your laughs Uncle B, and the time you grabbed a machete and chased a large rat out of the guestroom. I will savor the memory of the taste of those English candies, and I will make sure to kiss your picture the next time I’m in Jamaica. I know you lived a full and prosperous life, with your family and friends always behind you. I hope that I too, can live a life like that. With more to love than to regret, with more to look forward to than to fear.

Safe travels Uncle B, wherever you are.

 

 

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