Over & Out

This morning, my Uncle Art passed away from pancreatic cancer. Just like most of my family, Uncle Art was not technically or genetically related to me. He was the pastor at my parents’ church. Uncle Art and his wife, Aunt Nancy had a very close friendship of 40+ years. So even though he wasn’t technically my uncle, he was more like family than some of my actual family members. Uncle Art was there the day my parents brought me home from Catholic Social Services. He baptized, first communioned, confirmed…and was supposed to marry me someday. That will be my greatest regret; that I will never get to hear the wonderful sermon I know he would have written for my wedding. Uncle Art was in my life for every major and minor event of my life. As a child, my parents and I would go to Florida for spring break every year…Uncle Art & Aunt Nancy tagged along year after year. The beach was our home. As a pastor, Uncle Art was always there to answer my difficult questions with compassion and understanding. I’ll never forget the day that, as an oblivious teenager, I made the flippant comment to Uncle Art that he was lucky because he “only worked on Sundays.” WOAH! Needless to say, I learned my lesson and was immediately corrected. I will always remember Uncle Art’s laugh and how I always thought how silly it was that Uncle Art was the only pastor I had ever heard say, “Jesus Christ…” in reply to a good joke or ridiculous comment. As a father of 3 boys, I’ll always remember how frivolous and girlish all my life problems and events seemed to Uncle Art. I’ll never forget how he held me and refused let go, even when I tried, only minutes after Mom passed.

I will take with me Uncle Art’s love of life and ability to touch every life he came in contact with. He had many wise one-liners, but one of my favorites was “Everything a person does makes sense to that person at that time.” Those words have allowed me to understand people and not pass judgement many (not all!) times. Just because I don’t understand or agree with the decisions a person makes, doesn’t mean that person doesn’t hold valid reasons for them. Uncle Art was so wise and so loving. He took the time to genuinely learn about each of my friends. Those of my friends that had the chance to meet him or even be a part of his life will understand the great loss.

A few years ago, Uncle Art learned the joys of email and would send me quick notes every so often. He and my mother frequently exchanged letters discussing the meaning of life and various moral issues. I guess email was his way of passing the torch to a younger generation. Here are a few of my favorite notes:

Well Ashley – How was school today? Do you like teaching? It seems like you put it all together since OU – it is always a difficult task for anyone – the counselor in high school – after I took all the tests back then – said I should either be a Marine or a Farmer – I hate to shoot at people although I like guns and have them – and I do not even know how to plant grass that will grow -my pastor asked me when he visited me in the hospital when I was real sick – 14 years old – do you want to work with people or things – I tried the things stuff – so I said people – and here I am all these years later doing almost the same thing that you are doing – Have a good week – Love you Uncle Art

It was good to see you and talk with you and have another opportunity to tell you that you are loved. Love you a lot Uncle Art  Thanks for the coffee  — um um good.

Did you know that someone stole Bristol Palin’s virginity – I am looking for him – Did you know that Johnny Depp is making a comeback – Is there a Deppathon this year ? How and what are u doing this summer with your summer break – are you taking classes – hanging out or just surviving like me – Love you and will be at the brat thing at St. James the Less  in August – miss you and hope you are well and happy – or at  least a combination of that – Art The Uncle who is the Wizard of Worthington – Love 4 you

{In response to an email I sent him about receiving my 5 year teaching license and that my mom would be proud of my perseverance} Yes she would  – and we are so proud of you too and we love you very much – you are on your way now and I know that you will touch a lot of lives positively – that is what you were meant to do – you have a positive soul about you . We are going  out to dinner with your dad and Cathy tonight – what do you think? It will be difficult to see someone else but your mom is already deeply embedded in our souls and lives – talk to her every day and wondering what she is doing and can’t wait to see her again —- Love you Uncle Art (The Wizard)

I love you always and forever – and hope that you will soon be found by the charming prince so that you can become a princess – Love you Uncle Art

I will make to your wedding and well beyond that – I wouldn’t miss that for anything – and the guy you finally get must be a very nice guy because you do not deserve any jerks or assholes or I will put a contract on them – and whoof – they are gone  Love you a lot – have a good day  – Uncle Art

{It should be noted that my mom’s drink of choice was Dewars on the rocks with a lemon twist} your mother is with all of us today – we love her and will continue to love her and she is having scotch with God – I hope God provides the lemon twist – Talk to you tonight – Love you Uncle Art  (The Wizard)

I am very, very sad about his passing, but once he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, unfortunately, I knew it wouldn’t be long. So I guess it’s not surprising, but I am nonetheless devastated that one more person has been taken from me because of cancer. Uncle Art was a pillar of strength and a ray of love and life.

F*#K Cancer. Seriously.

Every time Uncle Art ended a phone call, his signoff was, “Over & out!”

Always a goof! This was a Lake Erie fishing trip when I was 9 years old.

Always a goof! This was a Lake Erie fishing trip when I was 9 years old.

 

Someday, I will walk with Uncle Art on the beach again.

Someday, I will walk with Uncle Art on the beach again.

 

I know that Mom & Uncle Art are in Heaven finally sharing a drink together after almost 3 years of separation.

I know that Mom & Uncle Art are in Heaven finally sharing a drink together after almost 3 years of separation.

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3 thoughts on “Over & Out

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