Monday, October 10, 2011
To Ozzi (Uncle) Mike on your first day in Heaven
Dear Ozzi Mike,
The day after you died was a beautiful day here on earth. The sun was shining in that New England October way. You remember, an Indian Summer sort of sun. Blue skies and white clouds hovered over us. I could practically feel you in the air all around.
And though I don't know exactly what you encountered on your first day in heaven, I think I can safely guess a few things you might have been doing.
I'm sure you were greeted by your sisters and brothers. I'm sure your mother and father were on hand to congratulate you on your amazing one hundred and five year run.
And then, there she was, your lady, your wife. Carmel the beautiful. And you didn't miss a beat, did you? You grabbed her, young again both of you, and you waltzed her right through the gates. Thirty years is a long time to wait holding a dance card. But you always knew she'd be there. And she was.
I hope, as you danced, you turned around. Pulled by all of us down here missing you. Did we warrant just a momentary glance? I hope so.
Look, there are your sons. Both like you in different ways. Michael, who learned from you to love the outdoors and who shared your unwavering faith. And Robert, whose artistic brilliance and dapper dress were surely a hand-me-down from watching you. You were quiet in your parenting, but substantial none the less. Your loyalty and responsibility are qualities that shine in them as well. Robert, at twenty three years old, took on the responsibility of helping raise a child that was not his. (And you, in turn became my surrogate grandfather with a grace I'll always thank you for) and Michael? He's followed and supported nieces and nephews over the years with a fierce yet subtle presence.
And look, do you see your nieces and nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews, and all the great great Grands? All grown or growing and all accomplished in their own way. You were always there for all of us. Always the first (with Uncle Tony) to be at the hospital if one of us was sick or needed you. Always around at holidays with an envelope and a kiss.
All of us, even the littlest, have fond memories of you. But I'd like to take a moment to share a few of mine. Because you must be very busy up there... and I'm a selfish girl who wants to make you remember me too.
When I was just a little girl, I watched you garden. You had a path out in the back yard of your house on Evergreeen, that was made of bottles inserted into the ground so that their spherical bottoms sparkled up from the manicured grass. There was magic there.
And when I came to your house on Thursday evenings, you and Auntie Carmel always had things for me to do. Things like drawing perfect patterns on light boxes and coloring in enormous coloring books, bigger than me. I was scared, when I was small, of being away from my mother. But not at your house. It was safe there.
And when you were the director of the choir at St. Brenden's Church, you asked my mother and I to join. We did... and the music that we made.. it made my own heart soar. Ozzi, your voice brought so many people joy.
And when I got older, and Rosy was born. You supported me with a quiet understanding that spoke volumes of your commitment to family. Sunday dinners at my grandmother's were punctuated by you and little Rosy watching TV together. And you never got mad when she woke you as you dozed. You only smiled and nodded at whatever she wanted to tell you in her little girl way.
When I got married, you told me how proud you were. How you approved of Bill and thought he was the perfect choice for me.
You've always done that. Said things at the right times. A quiet man with loud things to give.
The things you gave! Just by your actions you showed us all how much life had to offer. At all stages. You paved the way for all of us to chase our dreams no matter how long it takes, or how old we are. Possibilities are endless because of you.
Your sister Fay, my grandmother is the last one left. The last of all Rosalina's children. Watch over her, Ozzi. She's lonesome here.
I'd like to say what most people say at times like this. I'd like to say Rest In Peace. But I can't. Not when it comes to you. Peace, yes. I wish you peace. Freedom from the body that jailed your incessant movement in these last few years. And peace to be with the ones you've loved and lost and now found again.
But rest? Oh no. Not you. Stay busy. Maybe you can help those angels and saints up there. I'm sure they could use what you have to give. You are a builder. Help them, Ozzi. Help them create a better world for us down here. I know you can, because you proved, here on earth, that nothing is impossible.