Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Uncle Elmer

Uncle Elmer called tonight.
He calls quite a bit - usually at supper time & i find myself frequently getting the children to talk to him as i go about getting the meal on the table & quieting a noisy babe.
Uncle Elmer is Neil's uncle. He played a starring role in the play that is the beginning of our marriage. i credit uncle Elmer a lot for the tender man my husband is. Children, those with special needs & the elderly all feel at ease with my husband- he initiates conversation & draws them out, into comfortable territory. Uncle Elmer & i are kindred musical spirits - when we lived in Manitoba, i would go to play at the Care Center and Elmer would bring his harmonica & play on every song. When i would go home, he would phone & we would play over the phone. He would be disgusted when i didn't know a specific hymn- it seemed he knew them all.
When Neil's Gramma - who was still so needed by Elmer - had a stroke and moved into the personal care home, we had fun filling in a little tiny bit of the absence that was so keenly felt by Elmer. We got to go for supper at the Manor, i learned how to cut his hair & trim his eyebrows. We went for coffee & Cai would practice all her new vocabulary on him - much to his delight. He still remembers the time someone asked her her name & she answered, "Pancake". We found something worthwhile doing, in visiting & getting to know Neil's amazing family (& i'm not using the word amazing lightly) - while just learning to be a family ourselves.
Uncle Elmer has an uncanny memory. He remembers hundreds of birthdays - & loves to be tested on his knowledge. But, when i first lost Caleb - it made every conversation with him painful. i dreaded the moment when he would say, "But, Paige, your baby just died. Didn't your baby die? You should have another baby, but he went and died..."
i fought fury, pain & tears - i begged him not to talk about Caleb, i got Neil to talk to him about it too- but to no avail. Invariably the next time we visited he would bring up our little one whose absence tore my heart in two - my little one who i couldn't talk to anyone about - hardly even Neil - for years after his loss. Casually he would mention him - and his death - and another woman who he knew had lost a baby. Sometimes when i was expecting Sloanie, he would say, "And now maybe this one won't die on you... Maybe now, you will have 2 babies."
And with each darling child we added to our little brood, he would remind me, now you have 3, 4 or 5... but there should be 1 more, shouldn't there?
Over years... many, many, many years - my memories of Caleb became a little less painful. i learned how to open that little part of my heart & not feel like i hated the person who mentioned his name. i learned that he was a gift - & i learned to cherish his memory & the gift that God gave me when He gave me those 16 short weeks. Slowly i learned to forgive myself for all the regrets i had surrounding his birth - & my wish to be able to somehow go back in time and magically have the knowlege i needed to save him gradually became acceptance - that my son was with God - & he was safe there.
So tonight Elmer called.
We had a nice long talk.
Finally he said, "Paige, you have 4 girls and 2 boys, but you should have one more."
"Two more, Elmer," i corrected him, "i have 2 babies in heaven now."
It didn't hurt that he remembered. Suddenly, he was my best friend - remembering my tender child with me. What joy that someone else remembered with me.
"i guess you don't have to worry about those two anymore."
"No, Elmer. i don't have to worry about those precious two anymore."
"They say when i sit down in heaven i won't be blind anymore."
"No, won't that be neat?"
"Ya - ...& i guess you'll have your babies again."


deborah said...

Paige, what a moving post. I love it.

Jen said...

I like uncle Elmer!
I like that he remembers (& made you remember) Caleb and Hope.
I like that Brennan has a couple playmates (that I approve of ;) )
I like that you want to come to 'the walk' with me again!!!
I like that I'm gonna see you tomorrow!!
I like you ;)

Anonymous said...

Neil's Uncle Elmer is blind yet he is one who "truly sees" -- the bigger eternal picture.

I think we all need an Uncle Elmer to help us focus on what is important...

Glad you had a good talk with him. I am sure it means a lot to him to know he can dial the phone and have a heart-to-heart talk with a distant friend. It's good that you made time for him in your busy schedule. I used to have long chats with my Dad's sister in BC. She is gone now, and I cherish those chats with fondness.

~ Saskatchewan Cousin

jessica jespersen said...

sobbing...love this p.--j

jessica jespersen said...

p.s. I remember you playing the piano with the phone up to your ear and knowing he was on the other end with his harmonica. I LOVE that picture. --j

Sherilyn said...

That was beautiful, Paige, it should be published.

Mindy said...

I agree - a stunningly beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart, yet again.

mamazee said...

i love that picture of Neil, too - he looks so tender to both of the men on either side of him.
I love God, and how He brings just what we need, even though sometimes it feels like He's just sawing away and why won't He make it stop? He is faithful, and the end result is something more beautiful for being hard won...
love your sweet heart.


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