After my family and I left our prairie home and moved to the east coast, my mother took me, my brother and sister to meet our Aunt, Uncle and their children. Playing in the yard with our five cousins were a few of the neighbourhood kids and I felt very nervous and overwhelmed to be meeting so many new people. Three months later we moved on to their street and I became good friends with the twin girls, who were the oldest of the five. We all went to the same school and Sunday school. After church, sometimes, my aunt and uncle would take me with them to my cousins’ other grandparents’ house for a homemade beans and brown bread lunch. (I can clearly recall the trophy room with animal heads on the walls and skins on the floor.) And in the summer, I would spend a few days at their cottage. They were always fun to be around and made me feel like I was one of the family.
As we grew-up, we formed other friendships and saw less and less of each other. Now that we are adults, we rarely see each other unless we just happen to run into each other, or at family functions.
Recently we’ve been seeing each other at the hospital as the youngest in their family is in palliative care. He has not had an easy life, as an accident in childhood damaged his kidneys and in the last three and a half decades he has endured at least 40 surgeries, years of dialysis and two kidney transplants. I believe his positive attitude, joke-cracking personality and two daughters are what have kept him going all these years. So it seems very unfair that it is cancer that’s got hold of him, now. I find it very hard to write…he’s dying, as it makes it feel real, but it is the truth.
They are a wonderful, close-knit family and have had to be strong for a very long time and I wish them love and even more strength, as my uncle will be facing his second round with melanoma… they have discovered two spots on his lung. Sometimes life hands you more than your fair share of challenges. All you can do is try to be strong fight the good fight.