I recently talked about how April 17th was an important day for me, this is the story.
My Uncle was a good man, he had few vices and lived a good, full life. He suffered from lupus, a very evil disease that caused him extreme amounts of pain to move. When it first happened as a child, he begged his mother, my grandmother, to fix it.
‘Why do I hurt?’ he asked
‘We don’t know.’ was the only answer he would get
I can only imagine the life he had growing up between my abusive grandfather and grandmother. The other two children [all boys] in their adult lives ended up coping with their childhood in different ways.
My father was a heroin addict, wife beater, child beater, child rapist, narcissist and well the list could go on.
My Aunt, well at the time, Uncle had a sex change. Now she copes like I used to, with food, tipping the scales at almost 300 pounds last I saw her she was also very abusive.
However, my Uncle, the only sane one in the family or so it seems, he was a saint amongst men. He carried that burden he was given and he did it in silence. With the life he had no one would have blamed him for turning out like the rest of my family but he was something special. He never laid a hand on his child and even though life seemed to knock him down every chance it got he would get back up, dust himself off and keep pushing forward.
One day, in the service I called him.
‘Hi Uncle Karl, how have you been?’ I started
‘Not well.’ Was his response
He spoke of an injury he suffered, he was riding in the back of a van when his back popped, his right hand went numb and he had to go to the hospital after the feeling never came back.
Back problems, curse of our family.
He laughed it off, typical for him and told me he had to go in for a triple bypass. That confused me since out of the family he was the healthy one, it would turn out later after research that it is an unfortunate side effect from the lupus.
Even still he was in good spirits. He always kept his head up, even till the end.
Then Easter came, I was out with friends since I was on leave and I don’t spend holidays with my father. When I returned to his house I found him in the garage. I waked up the driveway and he looked at me.
‘Your Uncle killed himself’ he said in a monotone voice
‘Ha right’ I responded hoping he was joking or at least would have had more compassion.
Nope. He was serious.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, this is the story, as it was relayed to me.
Easter, my Uncle was having a few drinks with his girlfriend of 11+ years and enjoying time with her daughter. Her Ex husband comes to the house to see the daughter they had together.
My Uncle asks him to leave, he refuses. As a police officer he should’ve known better, but I don’t particularly like the guy so I’m a little bias in that he was using the badge to get what he wanted.
My Uncle, got a gun. Now, keep in mind he had a few drinks at this point, he was safe at home, trying to enjoy himself so you can’t blame him for being a little drunk in a typically safe way.
The gun goes off, he falls to the ground. My Uncle thinks he just shot and killed a police officer.
Running to the bedroom I can only imagine the thoughts rushing through his altered consciousness. How quickly he must have sobered up at that point and more importantly what he was thinking. Locking the door he pushes some furniture against it.
He needs time to think.
‘What have I done?’ I’m sure rushed his mind.
A lifetime in jail, a lifetime in jail was what he thought he was looking at. Life had finally come and knocked him down in such a way he never thought he would be able to get up, dust himself off and walk away from it.
Calm rushes over him, I know this feeling first hand.
He looks at the gun in his hand, this is his ticket to freedom. A way out from this life.
He thinks of his family he will leave behind, I hope, truly that he thought of me.
Making sure that a round was in the chamber, after all you need to do it right the first time.
He gets on his knees, with how many times life knocked him down it was a familiar place.
Crying and shaking he puts the gun in his mouth.
This will be the last thing he will ever remember.
I would be the last person to get a photo with him alive, odd since I saw him precious few times during my adult life, but he was never far from my mind.
At the funeral I would be a pallbearer, it was an honor that I am not sure he wanted me to have but I accepted graciously. His family would shed no tears for him. But his friends, they would cry to the end.
As for the police officer? He didn’t even get shot, he just played dead. I think that was the worst part.
Secretly, to this day, I still hope the phone will ring and I will hear his voice
At least one more time, because, I still needed him.
The last photo of him alive, my Uncle and really, my Dad. The man I aspire to be.