Late yesterday afternoon, my mom and I trekked through the rain to my Aunt Ruthann and Uncle Bob's house. Most of the occasions we've spent there have been celebratory: Ruthann's graduation from Harvard Extension, Keith and Lisa's superbowl wedding, Kirk's and my Cronk/Russo wedding shower, New Years Day brunches, real-reasonless family get-togethers. Not so yesterday.
Yesterday was about helping my aunt get through the first full day without her husband of 40 years, who just lost his battle with a brain tumor. Yesterday was going through old photo albums to find pictures appropriate for a funeral collage and discussions of the proper order of memorial services and planning of food for post-service family gatherings.
My mom and I are old hat at this by now.
Ruthann and Bob met in Afghanistan. THey were both in the peace corps. They were married by the chief camel counter in their village because he was the officiant on duty the day they exchanged their vows. Ruthann sent home a photo to her family of Bob standing under a tree. In the tree was a local man in full local ceremonial dress. She captioned it, "The man I'm marrying." There was no further explanation of which man that was. Yesterday, while talking about what she wanted included in the service, she told Keith, her son, that theirs was "the love story of the century." I believe that.
In January, we had a gathering of my cousins. Uncle Bob was just a couple weeks post-surgery, but we encouraged them to come and see everyone, even if just for a little while. Almost my whole family was here when he walked through the door, met by a round of applause. He spent the day basking in the glow that comes from being surrounded by love. It was the last time I saw him.
Tomorrow, I will leave work early and drive back to Billerica with my mom and Will. We will sit in the local Unitarian church and share stories of a truly wonderful man. Hopefully, the plans we made yesterday will result in a fitting tribute.
Godspeed, Uncle Bob. You are certainly sorely missed.