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Saturday, July 09, 2022

Love, loss, and forgiveness : Uncle Junior's Tale

 About 50 years ago my uncle Junior had a short but at the time, life-threatening illness. While he was recuperating  he learned that the teenager who lived a few houses over frequently babysat his son while his wife worked her night job.  This was an unpleasant surprise to him. My uncle worked the night shift. His wife, a bank teller, most certainly did not. Junior remained calm but searched his home. He found love letters to his wife that were not from him. After his divorce, he and my grandmother did a fine job raising my cousin. 

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called "The Vampire" about a man who falls in love with the wrong woman. It includes the line," So some of him lived but the most of him died," and that describes Uncle Junior after his divorce. I do not  remember him ever smiling when I was young. I never even heard him speak his ex-wife's name until I was in my 30s. Hearing him laugh, joke and show zest for living is normal now but I'd say he didn't start coming back to life until my cousin was in college.

Junior's ex-wife went on to lead a tragic life. Her lover didn't  marry her. I guess he was just fooling around. Since she didn't have custody of her son, she was free to do as she pleased. She left town, traveled, had a career, "had it all" as the feminist's say but nothing ever seemed to satisfy.  She returned to her parents' home in her 50s seeking peace and rest. She became active in her family's church and even taught Bible Study. Now, her body is shutting down and the doctors say her next move  will be to hospice care. When my cousin told my uncle this he did something astounding. Junior went to the hospital to see her. He promised that when the time came he would sit by their son at her funeral and that is just what he did yesterday. I am in awe.