Yesterday, I attended my Uncle Jim’s memorial service. He had been a very successful businessman. He had been the Vice President of a big company and the President when it became international. He was one of those people that could relate and talk to anyone. He was the youngest of my mom’s 3 siblings, and the one that had been cherished by my grandparents the most.
At the service there were 4 speakers. His best friend since the 8th grade, Mackie, a judge. He was followed by 2 men I didn’t know that had worked with him for decades. The last speaker was his son in law, Peter. There was a guy who played guitar and sang. The last song played was Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die. Jim had planned he entire service ahead of time.
There was a big picture show. Hundreds of photos, ranging from the time he was about 4 all the way up until very recent photos of when he was down to about 130 lbs., and looking very gaunt.
There were a lot of people there. He had a lot of friends.
I sat in the second row. I became emotional occasionally. A picture, or the sight of a certain person, or just a word.
We were from 2 different worlds, but had a connection that was known only to us. Something that no one else would get. I suppose he had connections like that with other people, too.
I hadn’t really been in his life over the past few decades, even though he didn’t live that far away. He had always been closest to, and adored my mother. After she died we weren’t in contact that much. Plus, he had his family and grandchildren that were his world.
We were 3 years apart in age. When I was 10, he would pin me down and spit all in my face. When I was 16, he gave me his red electric guitar. Later in life, he battled with depression for a while, and asked for my advice. I had gone through it in my mid twenties and he wanted to know how I got through it. I explained some of the steps and techniques that I used. Our lives and the reasons for the depression were so different, so I really wasn’t much help. I think he eventually got through it, but I’m not really sure.
When people were speaking at the service, I reflected on what I had known about him. Things that no one else would know, or have experienced with him. Just as I couldn’t really relate to the experiences they were speaking about.
Jim and I were very similar in appearance. Sometimes, if we were at the same place at the same time, people would mistake me for him. They would come up and start talking to me and then realize they had made a mistake. For a split second, right before the realization, they would have the most puzzled look on their face. Yesterday, at the service, I got some very odd looks from people. People who didn’t know me. I realized what was going on and it made me feel very strange and somewhat uncomfortable. For a while anyway. Then it became funny.
So, after the service, I walked to the exit of the parking lot, and waved to the cars as they were pulling out of the parking lot. It was one last connection between the 2 of us that only we could understand. I thought it was hilarious. He would have, too.