My Uncle Chuck died last month. He was 91. He had bombed Italy and Berlin in WWII and afterward, was an angry man prone to fistfights, even into his 80s. For years we were estranged, but softened by age, we made a new relationship and rarely mentioned the past. I visited when I could. We talked by phone regularly. When it came, death was as he’d hoped: at home and swift. I was holding his hand when he took his last breath.
Since the funeral and cleaning out his house, I’ve had trouble picking up where I left off. Death does that. It shifts the pieces. Nothing goes back the way it was. I kept wanting a way to honor him yet honor myself. Honor us. Uncle and niece, eldest siblings, people who do what needs to be done, crossword solvers. Last of a line. Forgivers.
I chose a new shiny sparkleball from my collection, and I’ve hung it like a lighthouse beacon out front, for Uncle Chuck. I’ll leave it up as long as I need to.