My great uncle died Sunday October 14, 2007 from lung cancer. He was very peaceful and died quickly. He called out for my grandma (his sister) and his son called her and told her. She came down right away. She went to his side and said, "I'm here Doyle" and he said, "Wanda....Wanda..." And he gasped for air and then died. He had a fear of dying alone and I think my grandma being there (and all his kids too) really helped. He had actually told my grandma not to let him die alone. My Aunt called me and left a message on my machine around 11pm. Ricky and I were watching TV but noticed the answering machine flashing in the kitchen when we came out for a midnight snack. My Aunt told me to call her and I knew right then. The way you just *know* something. I called her back and there was no answer. I got dressed and went right down the hill. On my way down the hill the inside lights in my van all went on at once. I thought it was a sign. Be it supernatural or an accident because of the bumpy road (unlikely but I guess possible), it was still a sign.
When I got far enough down the hill to see my uncles cabin I saw a lot of cars and headlights. I pulled up next to my aunt and the nurses car. I walked past his kids standing outside. My Aunt was standing next to his bed and she turned around to see who was there. She said, "you knew when I left the message didn't you." I shook my head and went to my uncles bedside. I'd never seen a dead body before, let alone kiss one. It's so much less weird or odd when it's someone you know and love. I kissed his head several times. I told him how the kids will miss him so much and how it wouldn't be the same without him. I looked up at my grandma and chatted with her for a minute. I went outside, and then back in once more to say good-bye.
I told the kids in the morning about 9am after Ricky went off to school. That was a mistake. I had four crying kids and a very confused Layla insisting on wanting to go see Uncle Doyle "right now!" I packed the kids up and headed down the hill to find my family. The kids settled down and we all had breakfast and talked.
I'm so thankful we had so many good years here with him. The older kids will remember him. Layla probably will not, but I'll know that she knew him, and I can one day tell her about when she morned him. Penelope will never know him but he left his stamp by nicknaming her. When she was about 5 months old I was walking past and he said, "ol' Pah-nelly, huh?" and it has stuck ever since. He said "huh" to you all the time. His most known phrase was, "Whaddya think, huh?" (Or sometimes to a woman - "whaddya think dear?)
Death is so strange and it stirs up many thoughts about mortality. Charlotte and I talked about how without death there would be no birth, and we found a small amount of comfort in that.