He has been gone for five years now. A stunning thought as I contemplate this passage of time. The rain pouring down outside adds to my melancholy. The sound of traffic in the distance speaks of trips that won't be taken, things that won't be seen. Faintly, at the back of my mind, I can conjure up a song, "the falling leaves drift by my window."
Is it acceptable to think I still have a relationship with him, I mean, since he has been dead now for half a decade. Our relationship was one of the most important ones for me during my formative yeas and well into adulthood.
I was a sickly child. I was born prematurely back in a day when there were not neonatal units and specialized care for preemies. My parents were given all sorts of dire predictions about my prognosis-which-fortunately-did not come too pass.
One precaution they took-was keeping me some what isolated at first-to allow my immune system and nervous system more time to develop. One result of this-I was a very shy child. I would cry-even when left in the care of relatives-since I spent little time with them.
My uncle looked and sounded exactly like my father, his younger brother, though. He could hold me when I was a toddler, briefly, because it would take me a bit to realize he was not my dad. There are several pictures from when I was quite young that show me jumping out of his arms-trying to reach for my father, who is just out of frame, as I have come to the conclusion that this is not my dad.
I can remember being about 4 or 5 and seeing these pictures and feeling quite badly about having been such a fussy baby and wondering-had it hurt his feelings at all? I remember then it was my goal each year to make sure I had my picture taken with him-showing how happy I was to be with him, on his lap.
I have always said that my uncle and my father were the bookends of my life. They allowed me to think the world was really a safe and happy place-even though they both knew better. My uncle being a police officer, then detective, then administrator, and my dad being a corrections officer.
I can still remember paddling between them at a local campground's small lake. It was when I learned my first tentative dog paddle, that I could be safe and get around in the water on my own. I spent a whole afternoon swimming back and forth between them as they talked and talked and talked.
Even though he is gone-I still will pause to reflect in a situation-to think what would he thing about this-what would he say if I did this? He still influences me to this day, so I think it is fine to continue to feel that my relationship with him is alive and well, beyond the limited boundaries as I understand them in this time and space.
Nat King Cole's Autumn Leaves