Decided to check my facebook this morning. I haven’t really been checking it every day (I hated the way they changed it to show “popular” updates on top because I want to see them in order…which has been fixed) but decided today I’d do it first thing.
So I’m scanning down the page and see my cousin, Johnny, update a small thing about our Uncle Howie dying. I think my heart literally stopped. So I scroll down and My cousins Lisa and Carl also mention it. I guess he died some time during the night.
He had been battling cancer for many years and was having issues with the cost. He had to have some foundation help him out because his portion was in the thousands of dollars a month just for the chemo. No one should have to worry about that crap when they are dying. They had given him only a couple of years to live.
He’ll be missed greatly. He’s the oldest of my mom’s siblings that was still alive (in his 70s but so full of life). He leaves behind a wife, three sons and a few grandkids. He joins his older brother, Leroy; older sisters, Shirley and Elaine (and their spouses) and younger sister, Glenna (my mom) in the afterlife…whatever that may be.
I didn’t know my Uncle Howie as well as some of my other aunts and uncles but what I remember of him was a jokester. When we had our annual family reunion he always wore the same brown polo shirt. Finally my mom asked him what was up with that and he laughed and said he wanted to see how long it would take for anyone to notice. So it’s almost impossible to tell what year reunion pictures are from based on what Howard was wearing. I mean, most of my childhood I only remember him in that shirt, lol. He was always the strong presence in the background of the family, being the oldest brother living near everyone (Leroy lived in Utah, everyone else was in Michigan) he was kind of the patriarch of the family, looking out for everyone even though he lived kind of far from the center of the family.
I know his health was failing the last few times I saw him (years ago) necessitating him walking with a cane. The last email I got from him a couple months ago said things didn’t look good but he was hopeful.
That leaves just two brothers: Pat and Denny, and the four girls: Nora, Kitty, Carol and Susie left in the family. Just saying that is heartbreaking. I’m not sure how I’ll handle it when the rest start going (hopefully not for many years). Those left are the aunts and uncles I was closest to because they are close to my mom’s age (my Uncle Denny was my dad’s best friend in Vietnam and the reason my parents met and married). My mom was dead center of the 5 little girls (in between Kitty and Carol) and all of the girls are about a year or so apart so they were close. Nora was my mom’s best friend which is why I named my daughter after them (Nora Glenn).
I’m just so…I don’t know, numb right now. I’m too emotionally raw from my own issues to feel anything. I won’t be able to attend the funeral. It’ll be back in Michigan and, even though I could catch a flight to Chicago or Detroit for free, I have no way to get to wherever they’re having it (he lived in the Flint area but the family is from Grand Rapids). Plus that would mean my husband would have to take off work to stay at home with the kids and we can’t afford that. I wish I had a picture to share. I know I scanned some years ago but they must be on a disk packed away.