This morning finds me in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I am here for the funeral of my aunt, Joy Wilson. She passed away last week after a long fight with Alzheimer’s. I was here at the same funeral home just a few years ago, when her husband, my father’s brother Dave, passed away. While I am blessed with many terrific relatives, Uncle Dave and Aunt Joy were the ones to which I felt closest. As a child we vacationed with them and their family every summer. Even though I rarely see any of my Canadian relatives nowadays, emotionally my cousins from this union are the closest for me as well.
Uncle David had a sense of humor very much like mine. We were having dinner about 10 years ago when we discussed getting older. David had suffered a stroke a year or so before and had some remaining paralysis on his right side. My Aunt Joy had polio as a child and it left her with mild paralysis on her left side. David told me that people would remark how nice it was to see an old couple hold hands while they walk. He said he didn’t have the heart to tell them that they were just trying to walk in a straight line.
Once my wife and I were discussing a tragic airplane accident that occurred outside of Pittsburgh in the 1990’s. A Boeing 737 on final approach for landing suddenly barrel rolled at 6,000 feet and dove straight into the ground, killing everyone on board. My wife commented on how frightening it must have been for the pilots of the aircraft. I assured her that the sentiments probably ran very similar throughout the entire aircraft. She responded with, “Yes, but the pilots are up front and can see exactly where they are headed.” I agreed, and added, “Plus, they know that in a couple seconds 150 people are coming through that little door.”
When I shared that story with my Uncle Dave, he didn’t miss a beat. When I gave the line about 150 people coming through that little door, he immediately chimed in with, “and they’re bringing their own chairs!”
I did say his humor was very similar to mine. I guess that might not always be a good thing.
David and Joy were an exceptional couple. They were, literally perfect for one another. I never heard an angry word from either of them. If ever two people were meant to be together for all time, it was them. When David was buried, the finality for Aunt Joy, who was in the early stage of Alzheimer’s, was devastating. Watching her agony and being helpless to do anything was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Maybe it is strange, but the knowledge that they are together once again brings great solace to me, as it likely does to the rest of the family. Our loss and sadness is real, but tempered by a reunion of soulmates that was simply meant to be. Therefore, it is possible that today we will cry both tears for and of Joy; and all for the same reason.
Thanks, as always, for indulging me…..