On the 45 minute drive to see him, I ran over all of the scenarios in my head. Will he recognize me? What do I say? How will he feel about dying? Will I cry? If I do, how will he react? Should I even be going, or should I just remember him as he was?
Telling someone you love, who is dying, is never easy, but my uncle made it easier than I ever imagined possible. When my sister and I walked into his room, with our face masks on to keep from spreading germs, he looked up and said, "here's those two sweet girls". I of course wanted to burst out crying right then and there. Let's face it, the number of people who remember me as a sweet girl is dwindling rapidly. (In fact there are those who might tell you I was never that sweet.)
My uncle was apparently having the most coherent day he has had in awhile. He was a lot more coherent than I am on most days. He seemed to know everything that is going on with the family now and remembered everything from the past. He asked us about our families and how they are doing. I asked him what his father, my pappy, had died from way back in 1953. I had never gotten a straight answer on that one and I like to know all of my family's medical history. He kind of chuckled and said he died from pellagra or what used to be known as sharecropper's disease in the south. They apparently attributed it to his life of farming, eating too much black strap molasses, and being a heavy smoker. It is something that is readily treatable these days. I love the black strap molasses part. I can probably scratch that off the list of things I may die from.
So how do you say goodbye to a loved one? I guess no book can really tell you the answer to that. Each time will be different. I know that no matter how sad I feel I wouldn't have missed this goodbye for the world, and I know that soon he will be soaring once again into the skies, being greeted by all of his loved ones who have gone on before him.