Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Shared Heart

I had an aunt and uncle who used to visit us on Sundays once in a great while when I was growing up. As a child I was frightened just a bit by Uncle Frank. No, not frightened I guess, just nervous. He always drove a big black sedan which reminded me of the gangsters I saw on tv, and with his physical appearance one would think he was a mob boss from the big city. Short in stature but very stocky with a face slightly resembling Ernest Borgnine, I shrank into a corner whenever I heard his gruff voice talking to dad. As I got older I discovered that my younger impressions of him were completely false and that he was really a mild mannered, good-natured man who perfectly complimented my Aunt Irene who was very outspoken and, like my dad, very opinionated. When we would visit my grandma and my dad and his siblings would gather around the table it was usually dad and Irene whose voices could be heard above everyone else, arguing about politics or the church, or whatever topic came into play. Dad used to think that his brothers and sisters regarded him as kind of an outsider since he chose to live on a farm, which in their eyes made him a lower class person. That might have been partially true early on, but as they all got older they mellowed dramatically and I think that dad felt more of a connection with his family in his later years. It was then, during this later period, that I got closer to Frank and Irene and discovered how closely bonded they were to each other. Frank got cancer eventually, and decided to become Catholic in his final months. Around the same time his doctor told him to start drinking beer to help his body flush itself easier. I saw him shortly after and he elbowed me in the ribs and said with that gravely voice "See that. I become Catholic and they hand me a beer!". He passed away shortly thereafter, and my aunt was grief-stricken and changed like I didn't think possible. She stayed in her house most all the time and pined for her husband. When we visited she would say that she wished the lord would take her because she missed him so. About a year or so after Frank died she got her wish, dying of a broken heart.
It was kind of funny that two people I dreaded seeing early on in life ended up being so different from what I thought, and showing me how deeply love can plant its roots.


Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Tim,

This is such a sweet and sad story. I've heard that if two people really love each other, they often die within a couple of years of each other. Makes sense to me. Love the line about the beer!

4:06 PM  

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