My uncle is dying from cancer, we don’t know how much time is left. I’m trying to be there for my dear sweet aunt who is dealing with all this.We hope he makes it to Christmas, but I’m not too hopeful. Even in his suffering he was caring for others and still had his sense of humor even joking and giving a hard time to the home health workers, whose care and support was a great comfort for the family. During his last couple of weeks I would visit during my lunch hours helping with what I could especially after my cousin went back home. We had precious moments together, just sitting there with him was comforting, we spoke of life, he shared that he was ready to go. On my last home visit with him I held his hand and I read Psalm 23, he closed his eyes and smiled, and then dozed off.
My uncle Richard has always been one of my heroes, he was my father figure when I was young and new to California. He was bigger than life, over six feet tall and strong. Sort of a John Wayne character. He taught my brother and I how to fish, play poker and how to enjoy nature and the outdoors. He also taught me the value of getting an eduction and the value of hard work. How to be self sufficient and how to be a husband they celebrated 57 years of marriage this year. That is unheard of these days!
My uncle was very wise, he knew a lot about politics, finance, sports and gardening. He loved fishing, camping, football, horse races and going to the “Moose Lodge”. He was one of five German brothers, some had cool nicknames; his was “Dutch”, then there was “Whitie(Eddie)”, “Ace”,”Al”and “Blackie(Robert)”. All of my uncles served their country, my uncle Richard served in the Merchant Marines & the Army at Korea & Viet Nam, and was awarded the Purple Heart for taking enemy shrapnel in both. He was patriot, a hero.
They started as immigrants from Germany and each one worked hard and accomplished much. They were part of the”Greatest Generation”, survived wars, the Great Depression, good and bad economies and many presidents. My uncle while stationed in Germany met a wonderful German gal, my Tante Anneliese they fell in love and got married. They had three wonderful children, Dieter, Kathy & Diana. My uncle was lucky enough to be stationed in Hawaii so they moved there for a few years, quite a shock for sweet young German woman. They also lived in Colorado, Georgia, Fort Ord Ca., and then Fresno-home.
My uncle was always genuinely concerned for our well-being, asking about my job, the kids and family. He loved having his great-nieces and nephews around and took great joy in them, always smiling and laughing with them. Being a typical “mans” man I don’t think he ever went Christmas shopping? Because every Christmas he was as surprised as we were when we opened gifts from them! He always asked,”let me see what I got you?”. We would always laugh every Christmas Eve.
I will miss his smile, laughter and the way he cared for me and my family. He was a good man a devoted husband, loving father, uncle, Opa, friend and a true American.
The impression he has made on me, and many others will be with us for the rest of our lives. We can only hope and try to become a man like my Uncle Richard.
Postdate: My Uncle Richard passed before this was published on Dec 13. He went peacefully while in the Hinds Hospice Home in Fresno Ca. I went to see him that night with my son and daughter to say goodbye…he went home to heaven around 2am. He went on the wings of a dove…forever loved, forever missed…