I just returned from my mother’s hometown, Dixon, Il. Of her nine siblings that lived to adulthood, only four remain. But holy cow did they procreate so every family gathering is massive.

We rented this 100 year old homestead for our home base. (If you want to see those pics and stories, you can see them on Instagram here.) Mind you, the house I live in every day is 99 years old, so theoretically there shouldn’t have been much adapting right? My house, however, has had people walk through it at least once in the past 50 years.

Ugh, this isn’t what I really want to talk about. But you’re supposed to start out with a pithy anecdote, right? I just don’t feel pithy today.

A friend of mine recently wrote, “Afraid of my voice, I stopped using it.” Writing fiction is weird. Especially when you consider yourself a memoirist. When writing fiction, I have to scold myself when I slip into my own voice rather than that of a character.

Look, I’m prattling on about something else that isn’t the thing I want to talk about. Avoidance is real, y’all.

My uncle John is dying.

It took all my restraint to not delete that sentence. So easy to just hold down the delete button and watch that disappear. Instead he’s disappearing. Quickly. Too quickly. He’s almost all gone. All 6 bazillion feet of his lanky grace is supine between layers of white cotton.

I almost didn’t see him when I walked in to his room. But then his eyes found mine and his familiar grin exploded. His eyes blinked that thick blink that comes with trying to push away the clouds of medication. Then he made a joke about all the women in his bed.

I was afraid to touch him, my being sick and all. I regret that already. As though my cold could hurt him at this point.


I wish this wasn’t the memory I was sharing with you. I wish I could seize upon any other specific memory but I can’t, try as I might. For some reason they’ve all combined into soup of fog and confusion.

But the feelings that the mere mention of his name conjures? Those are clear. Warmth. Safety. Laughter. He moved like one of those toys made of wood and string, where you push the button in on the bottom and the figure collapses – all knees and elbows.

And man did he raise three of the strongest, most independent, smartest, most generous, magical women on this earth. I wish I could hold them all now. And their mother. Who married Uncle John at age 20. That’s a long, long time to love someone.

Then again, he’s pretty easy to love.

Ok let’s just cut to the ukulele. Uncle John’s favorite song. Not that he doesn’t have enough women crooning this to him right now and stroking his hand, but I don’t know how else to send him love. And so…