After 92 years full of giving and loving and caring, my husband's Uncle Neil passed away. He was a man who knew his own mind right until the end--sometimes to our own chagrin. For example--he had to be hospitalized in Potsdam--not Massena--he refused to have a will, yet took meticulous care that his funeral was taken care of, and will be laid out in a flannel shirt--so he'll be comfortable for eternity. We watched him fail for nearly a year, and watching him become increasingly helpless hurt almost more than his passing.
Tomorrow the McClain clan will gather at Hammill Funeral Home to say good-bye. Yet, there's a sense of celebration. My Neil has found old pictures of his family in their youth to share--times when they looked gawky or the fashions really needed to rethink themselves. Unc Neil's niece and nephews and great-nephew will travel long distances to say their final farewell--and these are distances they traveled for Unc Neil when he could still appreciate them.
Over the past year, we've shared tales of Unc Neil's strengths, his character and his foibles. We've been blessed with neighbors who looked at Unc Neil more as their father than a man who lived down the road.
We'll gather and cry--the family together. Then we'll share a meal and in that time, strengthen the bonds that make the McClain group the family of character (or characters) they are. We will rejoice in our lives and the memory of one that touched us all.
How significant that Unc Neil died on Maundy Thursday--and will be laid to rest over the Easter weekend. I can't help but think of another man whose death brought life.
Have you found joy in dying?