Uncle Tom (sans cabin)

Before I boarded my plane back to Cleveburgh on Friday, I got an email from my mother saying that her 88 yo brother was in the hospital with TIAs. I’m sure she was worried that he would succumb to the same dementia that his wife did a decade earlier.

But Tom ranks as my favourite uncle and ok….technically I only had three! (a fourth died a few days after I was born) and his hospital wasn’t too far from the airport, so when we landed, I decided to make my way over, even though he was being housed in Neuro ICU….which seemed a little excessive to me.

In no time I was at the hospital, but the old volunteer biddies, who were probably 20 years older than Tom himself, said, “oh….sorry….immediate family only”. They finally let me in when I explained he’s a widower with no children. I’m about as immediate as he has besides his brother and sister.

ICU was desolate. I’m thinking they only had three patients there and none very ICU-like. If you’ve ever been to an ICU, you know what I’m talkin‘ about. No one was even intubated. Maybe in this smaller hospital setting ICU means something different.

Tom was very awake and alert – and very happy to see me. I kind of watched for signs of faltering memory and at first I wasn’t seeing it. When I did, I tried to attribute it to either, just being 88 and having seen the world and keeping things straight, versus not remembering.

Almost immediately, he asked about Denton – though when I was getting ready to leave he said when he got out we should have lunch and to bring ‘Kevin’ along. Eek (or is it eke….I always mix that one up). He also was mentioning one of my cousins and her younger brother….and he struggled for the name. When I helped him out and said, “Ryan”, he said….no…..younger than that. Well, Ryan is the youngest one. There was no younger one.

Earlier in the conversation as he was trying to explain his memory issues, he asked me ‘who won this year’s Super Bowl?’. Ummmmmm……I dunno. He goes, “exactly!”. I saw his point that no one remembers everything. But overall, he was very cognizant.

Tom also asked about my father, but not my mother. Maybe he’s tired of her though. But he went on to say that before my parents were married (pushing 51 years now) that he used to do an imitation of my father. I laughed and told him “I’d pay to see that!”. Though he couldn’t physically do it, he somewhat acted it out. And without getting into it, it was hilarious. I relayed this later to my mother – who had no idea her brothers used to make fun of her intended. But isn’t that what brothers do?

But I think that is typical of some memory loss…..people can pull back things from 5o years ago without remembering what is currently going on around them.

Asking how he was getting home when he was released, he said Clete was going to pick him up. I responded, “so you’re making your 90 year old brother pick you up? Can’t you just have your almost 79 year old sister do it?”

My mother and her brothers are funny lot. I’m sure it has a lot to do with their mother, and the times in which they were raised, but they’ve always been very close. As a family unit, my sisters and I are not built that way. It’s not a bad thing – it just is.

There are not great conclusions or observations to this post.  I seem to have a sporadic theme of how we are all getting older.  My mother mentioned she always thought her brothers would be there forever – and I kind of think that too….of parents, sisters, friends and partners.  I know this is unrealistic.

I’ve already discussed with Denton:  I want to be the first to go.  Though you might think I might fear broken heart syndrome, it really comes down to that I’d have to be the one to clean the cat boxes.

Oh relax!  I’m kidding!    kind of……

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