My Uncle Jimmy passed away suddenly this past week. He was 64. His memorial service was held yesterday afternoon in Baton Rouge. Prior to the service I visited with my aunt and my cousins, and listening to those three women remember Jimmy filled me with an overwhelming sense of regret. I hadn't spent more than a few hours with Jimmy over the 45 years that he was in our family--I have always been too busy with own life and career, shamefully, to spend much time with even my own family. I knew I liked him immensely, I just didn't know why. My only solid remembrance of the man was that he treated me as an adult a long time before I deserved it. As I listened to their remembrances I learned that I had missed really knowing a man who shared many of my own passions and viewpoints. I heard about a man whose fascination with nature and love of country surprisingly surpassed my own. I heard about a man whose exellence as a son, a husband, a father, and a teacher would have made him an ideal mentor in my life.
I can only guess how hard this is on my aunt and cousins, and my loss is only a fraction of that felt by them. But, in a way, my loss is greater than theirs. They shared his life, and I missed out.