Grief hits me in the oddest ways. Our schedule has settled down a bit; my work travel is done for the calendar year and Saturday soccer games find us staying around home.
Being home each weekend, I find myself feeling like something is missing. That life is not complete and I should be doing something else.
Last year this time, we were still in our “honeymoon” phase. Still getting used to a routine, what he liked, how he wanted his coffee made, what time he liked to get up. Sounds like a new marriage right? But no, I was learning how to be his roommate.
And then his health worsened. And we had hospital visits and nursing homes stays. The second to last time Uncle Bob resided at Stafford Healthcare, I visited every couple days. He was on a rigid physical therapy and dialysis schedule that left him pretty darned tired and not inhis room at night.I stopped in one evening as his departure neared just to visit, coordinate times, and check in on him. As I was getting ready to head home, he said with so much earnest and gratitude in his voice, “Wendy thanks for coming by and visiting.”
“Well you’re welcome Uncle Bob. I’m just stressing out over your homecoming in a wheelchair, getting a little amped up by it all and didn’t want you to feel bad. I just want to make sure we can take care of you. ““It will all work out, don’t worry.”
“You know, I really appreciate you coming by. They leave me to be pretty much, and once dinner is done and medicine, it’s pretty quiet.”
“Yeah, I bet it is.” We watched TV for awhile; I played on my smart phone. He didn’t need conversation, just being together was good. Looking at the time, I said “I should probably get going; got to get Reyde into bed.”
Not skipping a beat, he kept on his train of thought. “I kinda miss my family noises.”
“Your family noises?”
“Yeah. I know I’ve been spending a lot of time in my room, and not eating dinner with you, James and Reyde. But I know you are out there. I hear you talking, Nitro barking, Reyde playing. And one by one, all of you eventually check in on me through the evening.”
I laughed, because yes, we all did in our own way. Nitro checked his garbage basket multiple times to see if there was a snack to be had. Reyde would show him a Lego creation, and brush his teeth watching TV with Uncle Bob. James checked in every afternoon when he came home from work, and would say good night as he headed to bed. The first thing I did after work was visit with him, then get dinner going, and bring him his meal. After dinner we’d chat a few minutes about medical stuff that had happened that day or what was planned for the next day. Every Thursday was “pills and bills” day, writing checks and dispensing pills for the next week. His air was definitely interrupted from 4pm until 10pm nightly.
And so as the winter approaches and we come and go, I realize that I am dearly missing my Uncle being home, the house being warm and lights on. I miss the rigid schedule of pills and meals that kept us tied to the house. I miss the closeness of having Uncle Bob with us and adding more family to our family.
I miss the steady rumble of the oxygen concentrator, the country music playing every morning as I got ready for work, the NCIS dialogue drifting down the hallway in the evenings, his cowboy ringtone as his cell phone rang, the way he’d say, “Well Hello.” And each morning as I’d bring him his coffee, he’d say with gusto, “Coffee!”Uncle Bob, I miss your family noises.