The last time I saw my Uncle Sal was at a wake for another uncle. I’d been to this funeral parlor before; my father’s family used this place because they had a long friendship with the owner. I had a friend come with me, and she sat in the back of the room, telling me to take my time. As I was walking into the gathering of relatives and friends, looking for a place to sit quietly, Uncle Sal came over to me, gave me a hug, and took me by the hand. We sat together for a while. “I want to hold hands with my niece,” he said to his brother-in-law, who was sitting behind us.
We talked about our kids and our work a bit. We talked about the bicycle for two he had built when my sibs and I were kids. He asked me for the first ride around the neighborhood. We talked about their pet bunny which met an unhappy end. We talked about Christmas at grandma’s.
I asked how he was feeling. You see, we knew he was dying. He said that he’d had a transfusion and that should see him through the next few days. “Don’t worry, I’m all right.”
I knew – really – that this was our farewell. When it was time, my uncle walked me to the entrance and onto the porch of the funeral home. “I love you.” “I love you, too.”
“May the angels take you into paradise.”