"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
~1 Corinthians 13:11
"Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds."
"Nothing gold can stay."
My uncle died today.
The cancer got on top of him very quickly. First it was in his throat. A couple weeks later, his lungs. Three days ago it had spread to his liver and his adrenal glands, and his lungs were filling up with fluid. Today he's dead. My aunts didn't even have a chance to make the trip out before the end came.
Him and my father have spent about the last decade or so estranged over a business deal gone sour. From the very beginning my father was reluctant to bring up his brother's illness, let alone discuss it. He wished him well in a brief, awkward telephone call as soon as he got the news that he was sick and that was it. No tearful reconciliation. No life-affirming last few months spent together. No flowers, no card and certainly no deathbed visit ("...it's such a long drive, and I'm so busy with work..."). Just a ten minute conversation that ended with "Well, I hope everything turns out okay for you".
It makes a certain amount of sense, him being my favorite uncle; one is cold and distant and the other one, well, we thought drug dealers had thrown him off a cliff until a few years ago. He wasn't around much, and by all accounts he didn't really do much with his life. Had a brief, unhappy marriage that produced a son he's not (and never will be) on speaking terms with. Never went to college. Worked as a cabbie, a caterer, a clerk to get by. Drank a lot, used some drugs and whored around incessantly. For all that, he was still a lot of fun: he knew lots of dirty jokes, played a mean game of golf, watched a lot of movies, bowled, fished, smoked gambled and always knew what bars were open past 2:00 AM and which ones weren't.
Last time I saw him, we had just gotten back from playing 9 holes on a hellishly hot California day. I was lugging my golf clubs out of the back of his car when I heard-
I turned around. "Yeah, Uncle Rick?"
"I'll see you around, kiddo. Take care of yourself."
"...sure. We still going to the driving range tomorrow?"
"Alright. See you later, Uncle Rick."
The next day, he moved all of his stuff out of his apartment overnight and drove back to Vegas with about $125K my father had given him to invest in various businesses they ran together. Then he disappeared. I never saw him again.
The month after that, my father drove off a cliff because he fell asleep at the wheel on his commute to work. That same day we found out he'd embezzled that 125K from his job, and about a million other dollars besides. It took half a dozen cars, two houses, another mortgage, cashing in life insurances policies and the better part of a decade for us to pay that money back.
(TO BE CONTINUED)