Today I received a phone call from my mother telling me that my uncle had just died. It was a call that I had been expecting, but nevertheless, had been dreading. He died on March 25, 2008, exactly 37 years after his dad, my grandfather, died.
I have many fond memories of my uncle. When I was growing up, it became a special treat to be able to go over to his house and spend the night. My mom would drop me off and I would spend the day with my grandmother; going for walks and to the park. When my uncle got home from work, he would take us to Lyons for dinner. I would always have the grilled cheese sandwich and french fries. I would sleep on the couch, because I was too scared to sleep in the upstairs bedroom by myself. I can still hear the clock ticking in the quiet, early morning hours.
After my grandmother died, he was all alone in that big house. We had a Persian cat at home that was not getting along with our newest feline member, so my mom gave my Uncle, Elsa. He treated that cat like royalty. She had the run of the entire house and ate only the best food...Fancy Feast. He truly loved that cat.
When he would go out of town to a accounting convention, I would come over and spent the night taking care of Elsa. And, of course as all cats do, she would tear through the house in the middle of the night, scaring you.
As I grew older, I remember him coming over on my birthday to have coffee and cake. He was also at my college graduation.
Most Fridays during the summer, he would take me out for a steak dinner at the restaurant next to his office. I always had the steak with french fries and a salad with blue cheese dressing. He had the steak and the clam chowder. I remember just talking about all sorts of things, but mostly about how his work was going and how college was going for me.
He was one of the first to find out that I got accepted to graduate school in Idaho. It was with him that I had my final steak dinner the night before I left. We never had dinner together again. I miss him.
I am thankful that he got to meet my children and they got to met him. Although they will never know him like I had: when he was a teenager growing-up in the 1930's, that he and his friend would hitchhike 24 miles from Wilton to Bismark to see a movie; That he served in the Air Force during WWII, stationed on Guam, while some of the Japanese were still on the Island. That he was a two-footed driver; That that he used to work on taxes in the breakfast room during tax season; That he was the treasurer at his church; That he was a wonderful uncle.
I know that I will see him in Heaven again. He is there now surrounded by his mom and dad. He is in paradise taking long walks and having conversations with Jesus.
My prayer: Lord, please tell uncle Hilmer I said "hi and that I love him. That I am looking forward to another dinner together."
Goodbye, Uncle Hilmer, until we meet again, I Love you.