By Michelle Hakala
One of my friends has a little man named Floyd in her head. She says
he's the one responsible for looking through all her storage drawers
to find that little bit of information she can't remember at the
moment. He's the one who finds it and presents it to her at odd
times, which is why she'll sometimes answer a question hours after
it was asked. That's her Floyd.
My Floyd was my uncle. He died on Wednesday. It wasn't unexpected;
he'd had cancer and when we went on our truck trek last September, it was there that we went -- to see him again while he was still feeling good and could enjoy the visit. We took his sister -- my mother -- along, and while we were there, another sister arrived and at least
one night was spent in "Remember When..." conversation.
I could see him then in an odd juxtaposition. Physically, he was
there, in his sixties or seventies (he'd been married for 50+ years),
razzing his two sisters about the things that happened way back when.
In my mind, I could see him, too, as a kid of six or ten or fifteen,
getting his sisters in trouble and watching the results or standing up
for them when the local bully showed up. I could see him, too, as an
adult, comforting them when the only other sibling, a brother, died.
Floyd was a talker. In the time we were there, we heard more stories
from him than I think I've ever heard from my mom. He brought those
times to life for us with his animated re-telling. The hard-earned
money spent on a Saturday movie. The contest to catch the biggest
fish. The love he bore for his wife.
Even then, facing death, he was more alive than many people I know.
Talking about trips they would take, if they could, and the things
that he needed to do before he died. Mostly, they were things he
wanted to do so his wife wouldn't have to do them, after. I wonder if
he got them done.
The last update I had from him said he still wasn't in pain, though
that was a month or more ago. I hope it was still like that this week.
I'm glad we took that trip and spent that time there. I'm glad, too,
that his wife has the support of their family in that area through
We'll miss you, Floyd. Thanks for being with us, and say "hi" to Bert for us.
Copyright 2013 Michelle Hakala