On February 26, 2013 the world lost a great man. My Uncle Larry died sixty-one years to the day; he died on his birthday and to me that sounds like a crappy birthday present , but he’s not in pain anymore. He had been fighting throat cancer for more than a year, and he was going to have a tracheotomy put in sometime next week. But, God knew that was the last thing he wanted to do. He’s smoked for years, and he said he didn’t want a trache.
And, now I feel so bad, so guilty for what I’ve done over the last few years of his life. I had so many chances to get to know him, so many years to try and be a good nephew. And, now those chances are gone. I know the old phrase ‘you don’t know what you have until you lose it’, and it’s true. Every day, it’s true.
It hurts so bad, know that I could have been a better nephew, knowing what I could have done to be his friend, knowing that just once I could tell him I loved him. I’ve said that or even thought that, he was just a fixture in my life. I would go up to Grandma’s and I could find him sitting at the table on the chair closest to the door, or I’d find him in the living room, watching golf, football, or westerns. On nights when I would stay up at Grandma’s house at night I would see him moving around in the morning getting ready for work, and he was just always there. And, now he’s not, and knowing that hurts so much.
It’s like when my dog Sally died. She would always bark at me when I drug the lawn mower down to Uncle Kevin’s house. It took three days, it took me three days to know that it was real. Three days for me to drag the lawn mower down and listen to the emptiness coming from the kennel. And, it was like that this time too. I live three hours away, and know that he was gone was almost clinical, like it was just one more fact of life. But, it got real yesterday, and it was real today. Because I was here, I was here and the fixture my uncle had become in my life wasn’t. It doesn’t matter how many more dinners I have with my grandmother, he’s not going to be sitting down at the end of table anymore. Not eating his share of the cornbread and the green beans I turned my nose up at.
And, I can’t believe how much that hurts.
Everybody losses people in this world, it’s a fact of life. Everybody dies. But, I don’t think anybody knows how bad it’s going to hurt until it happens. I know I didn’t know how much it was going to hurt. And, when it came down to it, I realized I’ve never given him a Christmas present, I’ve never given him anything as much as I should have. So, when it came down to it I had to give him something. When me and my wife got together, even before we got married, she gave me her lucky coin, and today I gave him that coin. I put it in his hand so that he’d be able to hold on to it forever.
I pray that coin gives him luck across the river and all throughout the ever after.
I love you Uncle Larry. I love you so much. And, I wish I’d taken the time to tell you that in life.
In loving memory of Larry Neil Smith
Feb. 26, 1952-Feb. 26, 2013