With my uncle's passing, family members reunite after years of separation. Old memories return to the present with vivid colors, sounds, and emotions. Dreams and waking experiences mingle together.
In the last 15 or 20 years, I spoke to my uncle Speed only a handful to times, but a few months ago, I dreamed that I received word of his approaching death. In the dream, I rushed to see him, but I did not arrive in time. I saw him sitting at a window in the upper story of a building. He drew back a curtain and smiled at me, then simply faded away. I awoke in tears.
Only a day or two later, I received a telephone call saying my uncle had been hospitalized with almost no chance of recovery. My dream seemed prophetic. I dropped everything and rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, I arrived in time to see him and express my feelings. We sat and laughed like old times, as though no time had passed at all. Indian people are like that; we never forget our enduring family bonds. As I stood at the door to leave, I said, "It's been too long uncle. I love you."
He smiled and said, "I love you too." We hugged, and that was the last I saw him.
We learned of his death while traveling in Wyoming. Oddly enough, I would have arrived in time to see him again, but our detour to the Casper hospital delayed our return by several days. We arrived in Spokane less than 10 hours after his passing. In that sense, my dream was somewhat prophetic again.
The photograph above shows my uncle Speed standing at the front. My father is wearing the number 15 shirt.
At times such as this, family memories and old hurts return to visit. The memory of other loved ones who have passed fill my heart with renewed sadness. Somehow all the grief of every death comes alive all at once.
In this picture, my yaya Minnie stands with her children in July of 1962. My father is the oldest and tallest of her children. I can't say for certain, but he looks so terribly sad in this picture. I can only guess what burdens he must have carried, even at that young age.
Thanks to my Auntie Mary Ann Rima for the pictures.