(Author's note: my Mom wrote me after she read this and asked me to tell you that she never wanted to marry my uncle, but that she did think he was pretty cool. Once she met my Dad all bets were off - he'd been in the hospital with hepatitis for a while, so she met him after knowing his bro. Good to know Mom - and I'm glad you married Dad because otherwise I'd be my own cousin)
While floating on the lake this past week, I learned that my favorite uncle was not only the brother that my Mom really wanted to marry, but he died when he was 46.
Perspective slammed into my psyche like a runaway truck into a sand pile, and felt about as good.
I was 14 when he died, and thought he was too young to die, but not 'young.' My, how the times do change. I still feel young, even if I don't look it.
As I said, we were floating in the lake when she told me this, or reminded me of it, and that moment is now burned into memory as distinct as the pain of a splinter. 46. My age. 46. Too young, now that I know how young 46 can feel.
I looked at my boys leaping off the dock, emerging through the bubbles of their own breath so happy their smiles threatened to swallow their ears, and thought about what they'd remember of me if I found myself facing death at 46.
Would they know how much I love them? Would they know that I once thought popping tar bubbles on the patched road in summer was a fascinating enterprise? Would they remember that I get teary-eyed up when the flag goes by at a parade? Is it possible that they could know that I once danced on stage, played an alien space captain in a school play, was in a drum corps, hung out with musicians, loved boys who were all wrong for me, had more friends than any one person deserves, that I could draw, enjoyed reading, was a passable horn player, loved daydreaming, could make up silly verses to songs, enjoyed a good fart joke?
Yes they would.
Because you see I've shared it all with them, young as they are. There's not much hidden from them about their mom. They know the good and bad, the strengths and weaknesses, the foolish and the wise. I'll never pretend to be perfect, but I do stress the importance of being good, of being honest, of doing your best, even if the best you can do is someone else's idea of crap. It's not the other person who assigns you your worth, after all.
They know this blog. They can read anything on it, and I hope they do. They know the stories I'm able to remember, and one day I plan to tell their children about summers at the lake, about this one in particular, when they swam for the first time in deep water without a ski vest so they could get to the water slide at the state park, when they tubed behind a speed boat that launched them into air on good wakes, when they emerged from the week with skins the color of cherry wood, when they played pool with the cousins, floated around with their grandma, and pencil dived off the dock and touched bottom.
It was a good good week, full of new and different things, simply LOADED with new stories to reinflate the stock. Most excellent.