Last year, the stone wall that my Grandfather built to separate my grandparents upper garden from the lower level, crumbled and collapsed. My Grandmother was devastated. Devastated for beloved her garden and for losing something my Grandfather had loving created so many years ago.
My mom sent a few different masons over, their prices outrageous- the wall remained a pile of rubble until my Uncle John quietly began to rebuild. He worked on his own, day after day, rebuilding the wall. When he had carefully replaced all of the stones, the wall was once again whole and more solid than ever.
My Uncle John never bragged about his work, never expected praise or recognition. He has always been a quiet giver.
For as long as I can remember, my Uncle John has been a fisherman. His time by the sea led to walks, which resulted in a passion for collecting sea glass. There have been many times he’d be sitting in my Grandma’s backyard, quietly. Then he’d, out of nowhere, stand to fish something out of his pocket, a rare piece of sea glass found on his latest hunt.
At Thanksgiving, he came to our makeshift celebration, out on our patio, socially distanced around our space heater on the unseasonably warm day. Before he ever came into our backyard, he had handed Rose a small plastic bag filled with found treasures from the beach- small toys left behind other children or washed to shore from some other place. This was a common occurrence.
My uncle has been fighting for his life after testing positive for Covid a few weeks ago. He’s been alone, in two different ICUs, for almost two weeks. I keep picturing him there, quiet and alone.
I have cried so many tears at random times in the last few weeks. Tears for my uncle, the quiet giver, wishing we could give him comfort, a cure, a hand on the shoulder to let him know we are here.
I have cried quiet tears for my mom, who has been a champion of my uncle in his best and worst of times. She’s had to give more than most siblings, modeling unconditional love and acceptance always.
The tears have also come for my 92 year old grandmother, worried about her grown up baby boy. She has been through so much in her 92 years. This feels unfair.
I’ve also cried for the millions of people who have been impacted by covid in the last year. It is heartbreaking to think of all of the people suffering and alone. The families waiting for updates, hoping for the best. The patients, alone in hospital beds. The doctors and nurses, working tirelessly.
Every day, the numbers are reported. We all see the data. Each of those numbers has a name and a family.
If I get the chance to be in the same room with my uncle, I want him to know that his life matters. I hope he knows he matters.