When I first went to the hospital at the beginning of that fateful week leading to dialysis there was a twist to it.

As I was sitting there ready to walk out the door, just waiting for my wife to get herself together, my sister called and told me that my uncle had just left his body.

Now I am normally a fairly private person. The fact that I blather on in this blog does not belie that. Blogging is something that is done alone, and as a matter of fact I spend 80% or more of my waking hours alone on most days.  Which, incidentally, is one reason I dreaded the idea of dialysis because I would have to be around people so much more than I am used to.

So news like death of a family member is something I would normally be by myself and process. In this case it wasn’t an option.

I was gong through the admission process and a stream of nurses and doctors were going in and out of my room and intermittently these waves of grief were flooding over me mixing with my own concern over not being able to breath and what that portended.

It is not that I was that close to my uncle as he lived in a different town than the rest of the clan, but I would see him 6 or more times a year at family gatherings. All these gatherings were joyous occasions, as my grandfather’s children would gather at least once for every holiday, for weddings, for  no reason at all sometimes.

There were 23 of us cousins and it was always a lot of fun to be together.  So I had a lot of positive reinforcement associated with seeing my uncle.

As he was the last male in that generation to leave his body, there having been my father and 5 uncles, his passing carried more emotional weight than an individual death.

At least when I was up in North Dakota for my nephew’s wedding last summer I had had the chance to see him and spend a few hours with him. While there may have been ambiguity in my mind whether him or me would pass first, I knew it was the last time I would see him.

He was a Marine who  fought at  Iwo Jima where  American losses included 5,900 dead and 17,400 wounded. That was where the famous photo was taken.

He was a Christian who had an infectious smile and always something positive to say.

You have heard that at the moment of death, one’s life flashes before one’s eyes. In my religion you practice all your life for that moment.

“In any case, one should learn to be satisfied in any material situation so as to prepare for the moment of death. According to Bhagavad-gita, at the time of death the particular consciousness we have created in this life will carry us to our future situation. Therefore, human life can be seen as a type of practice for successfully fixing one’s mind on the Absolute Truth during the severe trials of death.”

Srimad Bhagvatam 11.3.25

My uncle had been staying in an assisted living facility. His wife was with him the evening before and had gone home. During the night the staff said that he had become very vocal and was preaching the glories of Jesus and exhorting the people in general to come to him.

In the morning they found he had left his body. So I think he will be okay, that his life had brought him to a point that at the end he was absorbed in spiritual thoughts.

I will miss him.