Often we take for granted the time we have with people. I will never forget all of the memories we shared together, or just simply having him by my side as I grew up. My great uncle Aaron was like a grandpa to me, always being there to cheer me up, tell me silly jokes, or just sit in the shade on a warm summer day and share all of our fun times together. One story that we always laughed about was the time I helped him pick up walnuts. We lived next door to him out on the farm for as long as I can remember. He loved to have different trees, berries, and nuts. His favorite was his English walnut tree. One day I decided to go help him pick up the walnuts from around the tree. He sat in the wheelbarrow with a smirk on his face, watching as I picked up the walnuts. When I was finally finished for the day, he handed me a few bucks and we both went our own way. The next morning when I woke up, my hands were stained black from the walnuts! I guess uncle Aaron "forgot" to tell me that they would do that. I had to go to school for the next few days and explain to everybody what had happened. I did not think it was funny at the time, but thinking back about it I can now laugh.
Growing older and weaker, I would go over after school and cook him dinner, clean his house, or help him with odd jobs. Sometimes it was just something as simple as visiting with him for a few hours in the evening, whatever it was, it never got old. As he was there for me growing up, I was there for him as he grew older. It was rough to see the condition he was in, but he was not going to let that change the outlook on his life, he knew he needed to be there for my family.
The time came and we had no choice but to put him in a nursing home, he was having problems and was unable to live alone, he needed full time care. Not long after being in the nursing home he fell and broke his hip. Due to his age and health (he had congestive heart failure), surgery was not an option. From this point on, I knew it was only time before he wouldn't be with us anymore. I still visited him as much as possible at the nursing home, but he was slowly dying inside.
On February 4, 2006 my mom went up to see him, she could see the pain and suffering in his eyes. She told him that if he feels he needs to let go, we would understand and we would be okay without him. She thanked him for everything he had done for our family and told him that we loved him. As she left that day, he gave her the slightest of a smile that he could. Early in the morning, about 3:00 a.m., we got a call from the nursing home saying he had passed away.
Although I know he is in a better place, I miss him like crazy. I just wanted to take the time to think about the past and remember my great uncle. Tomorrow marks 8 years that he has been gone.