Tonight, I sat in a hospital room watching my uncle try to communicate as best he could through his dementia. And I saw pure love. His two children and his wide and grandchildren were around him, crying and putting on brave smiles for him. They all looked devastated, but in a way that is hard to explain unless you are like them, I guess.
You see, I am the cousin who had a completely different experience. I came from the broken family, the one that was hit with alcoholism, depression, divorce and everyone not talking to each other.
I looked at them and thought, how lucky you all are, even in his final hour, you are all united and loving. What a gift he has been to all of you, what a treasure. My experience of him was also very positive. He was the only person in my childhood that told me I was smart and beautiful and I could do anything I wanted with my life. Those words followed me as I have fought for my success in business and the wonderful normalcy of my marriage and children.
Now, I use those words with all of the children in my life, my kids, nieces, nephews. I keep that legacy going, even though I never told him how important those words were to me.
Maybe, one day I will tell his children just how much it meant to me and how amazingly lucky I know they have been.
I hope that when my time comes to meet my maker, I will have impacted my family in such a way that someone can look at them and see the love that I helped create.