I'm obviously not finished grieving for my Uncle Laughter yet. I'll write to see if it helps process my feelings toward resolution and peace. I still want to sob in a moments notice if something reminds me he's gone.
Forty-four years ago, my very young mother went for help to my father's sister Artful and her husband. She had become pregnant with my father's child, before she was married in a time when marriage was a prerequisite to children. Uncle Laughter and his wife threw them a wedding and helped establish the new couple in an apartment.
I don't remember a time that Uncle and Aunt weren't an integral part of my family's life. They celebrated all holidays and birthdays with us as children. When my parents divorced while I was in second grade, they made a special effort to help my sister and I through the transition. When my dad married again, and had second family, and became disinterested in my sister and I, Uncle Laughter stepped into a fatherly role for us. I spent the night with them regularly. They took me to the museum, church, plays, circus, state parks, school field trips, parties, swimming, horseback riding, amusement parks, movies. One of my most fond memories of my Uncle Uncle Laughter remains in our yearly trips to the town Fair to watch him judge the horse shows. The horses pulling Southern Belles seated beside handsome suited men in buggies stole my breath every. single. year. You can imagine my strong attachment to my Uncle Lsughter through all the investment he made in my life.
When I graduated from high school, my aunt and uncle sat beside my mother. When I walked down the aisle at my wedding, I hung on Uncle Laughter's arm. He and Aunt Artful moved an entire day's trip from me around the birth of my first child. Uncle Laughter's hearing loss made a phone relationship difficult. We have enjoyed each other at a few family get togethers and funerals. Our family visited their beautiful island home on our last vacation. We intend to go back again to see my aunt this year. I don't suppose I'll ever feel ready to let go of a man so dear.
Though he hasn't lived in Kentucky for more than a decade, Uncle Laughter's funeral was packed. The receiving line of friends went out the door. He'll have another memorial service on his island too which I know will be jammed with those who love him there. Pray for strength for my dear aunt- these services are long and taxing. Did I mention how handsome and proud he looked in his white suit? Even in death his manner filled me with peace. The pastor who founded with Uncle Chuck's help, preached his funeral. I remember Brother Pastor fondly from my childhood days.
Saturday, just before the coffin was closed, we took a few minutes to stand with Uncle Laughter again. I was surrounded by a host of loving Uncles and my dad who all call me by a childhood nickname. My dearest Uncle W. and I lingered together a long time weeping, knowing this was our last moment with this great man. I stroked Uncle Laughter's cold hand and clutched Uncle W. with my other. Uncle W. helped me feel comfortable being a crybaby for just that little while. I needed to let go so desperately. Uncle Warn steadied me, pointed directly at me, and whispered to everyone standing around, "Laughter loved this one to pieces." Oh, don't I know it. Don't I feel it still?
I sat down in a nearby chair with my head in my hands as men took my Uncle's glasses, lapel pin, Mason apron, and ring. My mother came and put her arm around me. There's nothing like a mother's arms for comfort. Such a surprise to have time with her so soon after her surgery. And boy, does she look fabulous. I know the trip took everything she had to give, and I hope she'll rest these next few days.
I spent the afternoon chatting with my family, including my dad, and friends at a restaurant. Dad told me his wife's mother is on her deathbed. I was so sorry to hear that. I was amused to talk to my sister's first husband after 18 years. He's still the same gregarious person. My children enjoyed my sister's children as usual.
I had a soap opera moment that only my very own family could produce. I noticed two of my cousins whom I enjoy talking to very much, chumming with someone I didn't know. I hugged each of their necks and stuck my hand out to their friend and said, "And who are you?"
He gave a pleasant grin and shook my hand. "B.", he replied.
I hope my reply was warm though I'm quite sure my face showed surprise, "B. Yes, well. You're my brother then aren't you? (!) Strange place to meet, but I'm glad we finally have."
He doesn't know it, but B. will have my heart forever- I watched him take off his suit jacket and place it around our shivering Aunt F. at the graveside. Selflessness and kindness win me every time.
Uncle Laughter united a broken family in the same room with his good life and death. Miraculous. Now if he can work on uniting hearts as well from heaven with God's help...
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