Is to love them
Mouse and I’ve been fighting. Hard to say why, exactly.
I tell you that as background to the following conversation.
Me: I need a favour. My uncle died and I need to know if you can watch the boy and lend me your car on Monday so I can say, “goodbye.”
Her: What time?
Me: 9AM to 1PM or so?
Her: OK. I’m sorry about your uncle.
Me: I am too. And thank you.
And that’s Mouse in a nutshell. To know her is to love her.
She came by, right on time, and immediately started chilling with the boy while I dashed off in my black suit and shirt to go someplace that no one ever wants to go.
Didn’t sleep a wink the night before so I got there in a complete haze.
When I arrived, I texted my cousins – the two children of my uncle and a third from my other uncle, his older brother. It was the first time I saw all of them since Alison and I got married.
I sat outside in the cold car trying to steel myself to enter. I called Mouse, ostensibly to check in on the boy.
Her: Are you ok?
Me: Honestly? No.
Her: You got this. We’ll be here when you get back.
So I went in.
I said hi to my uncle’s son first and wanted to say hi to the daughter and my aunt but I couldn’t. I just stood quietly in the corner.
Funerals should always be about the person that died, not some rando that shows up and makes a scene so I composed myself as best I could.
After a bit, I walked over to the daughter, and then my aunt, who sat with my other cousin, and said hello. I’d still not really walked up to my uncle yet. I was putting that off.
I told my aunt I was sorry and she just nodded. She looked old and she never looks old. Rather, she looked shellshocked and I knew that look. Think I looked that way for most of 2017.
Finally gathered up the courage to go to my uncle and when I saw him, I had to laugh. He wore a suit but under the suit was a red CARVEL tee-shirt.
Of course, that was so perfectly him. He was so proud of his store and his work.
My mom told me to tell him some things from her…
I’m sorry you had to go through this. You didn’t deserve it. But you’re with grandma and grandpa now. And if you see my dad, please tell him we miss him, terribly. And we miss you.
…but I added my own little thing.
You never met Alison but you would have loved her. She always said she couldn’t wait for the three of us to head over to Carvel and eat as much ice cream as we possibly could. If you see her, tell her the boy and I love her so very much. She’ll want some ice cream, but not plain vanilla. Ah, the boy and her woulda both loved you and you, them.
Don’t remember much else. I did see a dozen women show up, crying. These were all the girls he hired across 30+ years. I overheard one woman say that she met her husband at that ice cream shop and that she loved my uncle.
Realized then that that was the reason he was my favourite uncle: To know him was to love him. Just like my mom, my dad, Alison, and all the people I’ve loved in my life.
On the way back, I got lost – even with GPS – at least three times.
And when I tried to gas up Mouse’s whip, my card was declined but then my phone rang asking me if I would authorize the charge.
I clicked yes and bam, it worked.
Wonder what tiny but amazing things the kid’ll see that I’ll never see.
Me: I should be back by 2.
Her: We didn’t eat lunch yet.
Me: Don’t wait for me, there’s some brined pork in the…
Her: We’re waiting for you to come back and make us lunch.
Me: Done. It’s a deal.