Thursday, November 10, 2016
I Love and Will Miss You Uncle Ronnie
This morning I saw a facebook post of a beautiful sunrise at my aunt and uncle's place in Tennessee that my cousin Tim shared. The comments under the photo raised the alarm and I messaged my cousin to see if everyone was ok. My email has been acting up and I had not been able to access it for 2 days so if someone had tried to let me know something, I was unable to get the message. Tim shared with me that his father, my Uncle Ronnie, had passed away. My heart broke and the tears started to flow.
I finally got access to my email and there were the messages from my mom about my uncle's passing. Last week he found out he was very ill, but that it was treatable, so he started on medication. Sunday he worked in his yard. Monday night he was rushed to the hospital and he passed away. I can't imagine what my aunt and my cousins are going through right now. Our family is very close knit. My parents were just back there in August for a visit with the entire crew. I'm so glad they made that trip and spent time with everyone. My uncle Ronnie is the middle brother, sandwiched between my father who is the oldest, and my Uncle Gary, who is the youngest.
I feel the need to share how much my Uncle Ronnie meant to me. He was this amazing, kind, hard working man who lived life to the fullest and loved to laugh and have fun. His family was his pride and joy and nothing made him happier than to spend time with them. He enjoyed fishing and taking his family out on the boat for some water skiing fun. He and my Aunt Susie were high school sweethearts who shared a lifetime of love and still got that twinkle in their eye when they looked at each other.
When I was growing up, we lived in Hawaii and they lived in Ohio. The distance did not stop us from remaining close. We went to visit them when I was 12 and they came to see us in Hawaii a few years later. My cousin Tim stayed with us for a bit longer after his parents and my cousin Amy returned to Ohio. There were some really rough years for my immediate family during high school for me. I needed to get away for awhile from a very stressful situation and my aunt and uncle took me in for the Summer between my Junior and Senior year. It was just what I so desperately needed at the time and they made a huge difference not only in my life, but in my relationship with my parents.
During that Summer, I learned how I wanted my family, once I was married and had children, to be. My aunt and uncle were great role models. My parents both worked really hard and my father's job took him away from our family a lot. We would go days without seeing him every week and that left my mother to hold down the fort and take care of all of us kids. My mother relied on me to help with everything, including raising my brothers and keeping the household running. We often joked that my youngest brother was my baby. There were times when the stress got to be too much for both my mother and for me. My aunt and uncle's household was very different from the one I was raised in. My uncle and aunt both worked hard, like my parents did, but they both came home at the end of the day and spent time with their kids and with other family members too. My Uncle Gary and my cousin Diane would come by their house for a visit and we would all just enjoy each other's company. We would go and visit my Grandpa and Grambetty and the love and laughter continued. Weekends were spent boating on the lake, visiting with family or going to Cincinatti Reds games. The main focus was always on family and keeping those family bonds tight. Their home was a refuge for me, one where I did not feel like I had to make sure that everyone had done their chores, homework, and that I had be the second parent while going to school and working several jobs so I could afford to go to college. I got to just be me and not be responsible for the health and happiness of everyone else around me. I saw the close relationship that both my aunt and uncle shared with their children and I wanted that for my future family too. Both my aunt and uncle included me in those relationships too and helped to heal my very broken heart and weary soul. They had no idea at the time, but they helped me to be able to rebuild my relationship with my parents and make it much healthier than it had ever been before. For everything they did, I will always be extremely grateful.
My Uncle Ronnie, Aunt Susie and Uncle Gary came to visit my parents about 5 years ago at their place in Montana. My husband and I went over to see them all. It was the first time they had ever met him and they immediately embraced him. We spent time reminiscing and hearing stories about my dad and his brothers growing up years, we talked about God and the power of prayer (my uncles and my aunt are all strong Believers like my husband and I are), shared lots of love, hugs, and laughter and I got a chance to thank my aunt and uncle for taking me in all those years ago and how much of a difference it had made in my life then and continues to today. Before we left to return home, my Uncle Ronnie and I shared a big bear hug and told each "I love you". Oh how I wish I had another chance to give him a big hug and tell him again how much I love him and how much he means to me.