To say Uncle Paul was all heart is completely accurate—and a bit ironic, considering he received a new heart a year and a half ago. It’s with a heavy heart myself that I say rest in peace, Uncle Paul.
Eric’s sweet, thoughtful, loving uncle passed away last week. He was buried in the Quantico National Cemetery yesterday and today is his memorial. Family flew in from across the country, though the girls and I had to stay home. I hate to miss the celebration of his life and seeing our loved ones, but I am remembering Uncle Paul from afar.
As a celebration of his one-year anniversary of the heart transplant—effectively his one-year birthday—he and Eric’s parents hopped in an RV and took a road trip to the West Coast. Uncle Paul hadn’t met Peeper yet, and Kiwi had just been born.
Uncle Paul seemed content to hold Kiwi for hours. He gazed down at her scrunched face with the most placid expression. And he loved interacting with Peeper. One night at dinner he couldn’t stop laughing because Peeper pointed out several dozen species of bees in her animal book, from splendid emerald wasp to carpenter bee. He even took a video.
As long as I knew Uncle Paul, he was the quiet man in black who was more comfortable observing and listening than telling stories. But the last time we saw him, he was chatty and quick to laugh.
“The heart they gave me must have been a woman’s,” he joked. Not only was he more talkative, he started listening to country singers like Kelly Clarkson. Proof, I tell you!
In the end, it wasn’t Uncle Paul’s lady heart that gave out. He was driving his Harley home from his daughter’s house when he crashed on a curve.
He is gone much too soon. Yet I’m grateful we got to see him this summer, that my girls got to meet him, that he enjoyed more than a year of full life after his surgery, that he died doing something he loved.
Uncle Paul and I couldn’t have disagreed more on matters of politics and many other things, but that didn’t get in the way of my loving him. I miss him today, especially.
Uncle Paul, tonight I drink a rum and Coke in your honor. Rest in peace, Uncle Paul.