Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rest in Peace, Uncle Cliff

I can't believe we're back here again so soon, saying goodbye to another of my mom's siblings, less than three months since Aunt Kathie died. Uncle Cliff, my mom's youngest brother, and my godfather, died suddenly yesterday, at the age of 73, in his hometown in Nebraska.

Uncle Cliff, in 2006

We knew he was being treated for cancer, and we knew that he was suffering similar Alzheimer's symptoms like my mom, but this was still unexpected. My cousin Sarah, one of Cliff's six children, called my dad yesterday, but gave very few details, (and my dad is terrible about extracting important details about major life events. Typical man.)

I asked dad if Sarah seemed like she would be open to hearing from a Richmond cousin, and he said yes, so I called and left her a message, and got choked up and sounded like a complete idiot -- not the first impression I wanted to leave with a cousin I'd never spoken with before, especially as I was calling to offer help and comfort, not cry in her ear. Tonight I had a better hold on my emotions and left a more "together" message for her.

So, we don't yet know anything about funeral arrangements, or if my parents can attend. My dad is currently undergoing daily radiation for his prostate CA, so it is doubtful that they'll be able to go. My mom was told the news yesterday, but according to my dad, seems to have already forgotten about it. I'm toying with the idea of going myself, although I haven't ever been to Nebraska nor met these cousins - we've only emailed. I imagine with the six cousins and their spouses, they may have things under control, but part of me feels like there should be a representative from the Richmond contingent present at Cliff's funeral; someone who can also pay their respects at Kathie's grave, as well as Uncle Mick's (mom's other brother who passed away about a decade ago), and our grandparents' graves. Someone who can mourn for her siblings in place of my mother, whose failing memory won't allow for that. Not sure if it's realistic for me to make such a trip, but it might be do-able. We shall see....

The last time I saw Uncle Cliff was around 1998 or thereabouts, when he came to Richmond and stayed with my parents. I was taking a COBOL class at the time, and since Cliff was an old-time COBOL programmer, he helped me with a particularly difficult programming assignment. I'll always remember him fondly for that. But more than that, he's always been my godfather, which gives him a special place in my heart.

I do think it is merciful, his passing so quickly, even as hard as it is on his kids. Better this than a long-suffering illness.

Here's a picture of my mother and her siblings, back in the 1940's:

Front (L-R): Cliff & Mick
Back (L-R): Kathie & mom


It's hard to believe that my mom, the eldest, is the last of her generation in that family. My dad, too -- he lost his sister in April.

Time marches on.


Robin said...

Mary, I'm SO sorry to hear that you have lost another family member. If you decide to careful. My thoughts and prayers are with you, now and always!

Liz said...

Oh Mary, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine how tough this is for you. I think it would be nice to be able and go and say good-bye for your Mom. but if you can't make it, I think your Uncle Cliff will be near you still.

jane said...

I'm so sorry for your loss,Mary, but I know your cousins appreciate hearing from you, so nice of you to reach out to them! Jane

Liz R. said...

I'm so sorry, mary. Plese let me know if there's anything I can do. It's hard being so far away from family. I'm sending my prayers. Loved ones are always with us as long as we remember them.

Margaret said...

Mary, I'm so sorry. It's probably a blessing your Mom isn't able to grasp this, losing two siblings so quickly. If it's not too much of an ordeal to get there, perhaps your cousins would appreciate you being there to represent your branch of the family tree.

Bess said...

Sending you a warm hug.

Robin said...

So sorry for your loss, Mary. I hope you get to go to the funeral and visit with his family. I think it would be meaningful for everyone. Take care.

Robin C said...


I just wanted to say how sorry I am about your Uncle. I know the feeling of family fading away. My mother's is getting smaller each year.

Take care and hope to see you soon.

Renny said...

You and your family are in our thoughts with this additional sadness. How lucky you are to have precious memories of your aunt and your uncle. If you decide to go, I'm sure the family out there would be appreciative, but if you can't make it they will certainly understand.

Please let us know if there is anything you need or we can help in any way.

Nikki said...

Mary, I'm so sorry to hear of your Uncle's passing... my thoughts and prayers are with y'all.