“Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes...I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again.” Billy Joel
I guess death is fair - it takes everyone. There is no special criteria. Life is fair, too. Really, it is, overall. But there are definitely moments - sometimes many moments strung together - when life is decidedly NOT FAIR.
Today I said goodbye to my Uncle Peter, my mother’s brother. Just 72 years young. Too young. He had many unfair moments in the last eight months. Too many bad blast leukemia cells for him and his previously healthy, athletic body to fight. He did the best he could. He lived a good life. He was a good man. Now we are left with hugging and holding the memory of him - a smart, caring, giving and funny man.
He was the son of Peter and Minnie. He made his dad (who did not complete his own education) extremely proud when he graduated college and later became a doctor. He married and divorced young, but co-parented well with his ex-wife who he remained good friends with and whom I still refer to as my Aunt Margaret. He raised three great kids who are exceptional adults. I wish we were geographically closer. He had four grandchildren, the oldest one graduated from high school last weekend.
He was a wonderful brother to my mom. She loved him so much. They had some great conversations, which in and of itself was pretty amazing since neither one of them were necessarily “talkers.” They laughed a lot. Both of them had a great faith and belief in God. Both left this world too soon.
He was an incredible brother to my Aunt Christine. Really, if there was ever a brother-sister relationship to emulate, it was theirs. Always there for each other. Their personalities were different, but they completed each other like two puzzle pieces, working together to complete a picture.
I have distinct memories of his blue, blue eyes both twinkling and contemplating. I remember (I was very young) him watching TV on his Sony Watchman. He loved watching sports. One Thanksgiving, my mother unplugged the television and told him it was broken. He figured it out before long. He drove my mom and me up to my college orientation. He drove up to Poughkeepsie and celebrated my graduation from college. I helped him out by doing some data entry for his medical practice. He took me out for lunch on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to thank me He took me on my first motorcycle ride. It was scary fun. He flew out to California for our wedding. He was there for my dad multiple times as my dad tried to make a life without my mom. He called me, “Kiddo.” His voice was distinctive to me and it always made me smile when I heard it.
And so, he had to leave us because death is so fair. But, at least he is no longer in any pain. I hope he is running around a lake in Heaven right now. I hope my grandma has made him a meal of steak and pasta for his after-run meal. I hope he’s hugged his dad, had a beer, enjoyed some happy, quiet moments with my mom, his other sister.
For us, the ones he’s left behind, our sadness will come in waves and there will be days that are definitely more uphill than down, for life brings with it unfair moments.
Rest in peace, Uncle Peter.