Saturday, September 12, 2015

Farewell Sonny Boy

My uncle passed away. He was 17 when I was born and being so much younger than my other uncles and aunts I never even remotely saw him as an authority figure or held him in reserve the way I did with other "real" adults.  He was one of the funniest men I'll ever meet and a person of great charm. Our family being Southern have a nickname for each one of us and his was Sonny Boy. 

Sonny's mother taught him to cook when he was young child and he was so talented that when he grew up he made a career as cook at some of DCs better hotels and fine restaurants. When he was a boy two tragedies cast a shadow over an otherwise happy go lucky youth. First, his father died after a long illness and then when he was 15, he discovered and became betrothed to Lady Alcohol. This grieved his mother and infuriated his big sister, my mother so he stopped... as far as they knew until he was 18. After that he would abstain all week and then binge on Friday night. Later he would go for months with only a few maintenance daily drinks and then inexplicably he would binge. 

My mother's family are remarkably robust people but even with our metabolism this could not go on forever. When he was in his late 50s my mother noticed that something was not right with his memory. At first his symptoms were so subtle than no-one but she saw them and then one day we all had to admit that she was right. In his 60s we got a terrible diagnosis....dementia. I went to court, obtained guardianship for him and found a nursing home. For four years my uncle was essentially my son. It was hard but it was also a grace and a privilege. On February 9th, my birthday he was taken to the hospital with pneumonia and he never really recovered. He spent the rest of his life with a tracheotomy and was on and off a ventilator. He was too much for his lungs and heart. I loved him very much.

Eternal rest grant unto him Oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Grant me a place among the sheep,
and take me out from among the goats,
setting me on the right side.

When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me with Thy saints surrounded.

Low I kneel, with heart's submission,
See, like ashes, my contrition,
Help me in my last condition.
Ah! that day of tears and mourning,
From the dust of earth returning
Man for judgement must prepare him,
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him.

Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
Grant them Thine eternal rest.
Amen.----From Dies Irae