i've got a million things to blog about, not the least of which is the wedding of course (which was great), but for now my thoughts are consumed with my uncle paul who passed today, likely due to a heart attack. i'd be lying if i said this was a surprise-- paul likely wrote his own fate by failing to take care of himself throughout his life. he was chronically obese with a terrible diet accompanied by an aversion to exercise and doctors. needless to say, deadly combo.
paul had the mind and demeanor of a child until his death today. he grew up in a time and place where people with his mental limitations were often dealt with cruel indifference. i honestly don't know if this was the case for paul, but with 7 brothers and sisters living on my grandfather's plumber salary i really doubt he rec'd the attention and resources he needed to develop in spite of his condition.
i grew up with paul as a fixture when i lived in ohio and later at family gatherings after we moved to michigan. paul was also named my godfather by my mother (we have a traditional, catholic family). in spite of not always being treated kindly or even fairly by those who grew up around him and ultimately past him, paul was good to us. he lived at home with my grandmother throughout his 40 some odd years and never married. instead of the attentions of a wife, he lavished gifts on his nephews/nieces and served as a dependent yet constant companion to my grandmother following my grandfather succumbing to asbestos cancer when i was 13.
earlier in life when i was brimming with youthful arrogance and idealism i'd pondered the "shame that paul's life was", in that he had no friends really, and little chance of getting married, no career, and nothing notable to mention for his years on the planet. as the years rolled on, i realized the importance of paul's companionship to my grandmother and all the young children in the family as he doted on them in his own clumsy, but tender way. paul taught me that one's life mission and accomplishments are not always transparent or appreciated, but the role of each individual is important, no matter how they may seem to the gaze of the rest of the world.
farewell dear uncle, i hope you're in a better, more understanding place now. we'll miss you.
Uncle Paul (godfather) and My Aunt Mary (godmother) at my Confirmation at our first house in Battle Creek, MI
Aunt Mary and Uncle Paul at my High School graduation in Battle Creek, MI (@ our 2nd home)