My Uncle Jim

Last Friday my mom received word that her brother, my Uncle Jim, passed away. He was 63 yrs old.

There are many emotions regarding this. It’s sad, yet we saw it coming…but that still doesn’t make it any easier.

My uncle didn’t tend to make the best choices in life. Right out of high school he went in to the Army, but if I remember correctly, that didn’t last too long. I believe he was married once, but that didn’t last long either.

My uncle chose to deal with things in life by using alcohol. For as long as I can remember, he lived with my grandma and grandpa. After my grandpa passed away…things really started to go downhill and he would take great advantage of my grandma.

To make a long story short when my grandma’s health started to go downhill, they moved her to an assisted living home and when they moved her there, my uncle was court ordered to go to rehab. While he was in rehab is when they moved her, so he didn’t know where she was moved.

We didn’t hear from my uncle for a while, and then one day we got a phone call from him and after he got out of rehab, he made his way back to North Carolina. How he got back there…I don’t know. But…he was a gardener at one of the University campuses back there. He lived in a trailer on some land that a lady owned. He and this lady became friends and they would check on each other occasionally.

Uncle Jim still chose to drink a lot. There were times that we’d get many drunk phone calls from him claiming he had cancer and that he only had days to live (this was years ago).

The other day, this lady went in to Jim’s trailer to check on him and found him slumped over in a chair. She went and got another gentleman to go in to the trailer with her to see if they could move him or wake him up, and that’s when they found out he’d passed away.

The sad thing is…he has no life insurance, he has no health insurance, he has no retirement (he couldn’t hold down a job for long). The V.A. will pay for him to be buried and give him a headstone, but that’s it. Unfortunately, we’ll have to turn his remains over to the state so that they can cremate him or do whatever because my mom and dad can’t afford anything and my mom’s older brother and his wife don’t have a good relationship with Jim.

I know I’ve basically painted a very negative picture of my uncle, but there are some very positive things about him as well. He was AMAZING at crocheting and tatting. Some of the table runners and placemats he crocheted were exquisite and extremely detailed. He also LOVED animals. He might not have been the nicest to adults, but he would NEVER harm an animal and if there was a stray bunny running around the farm or a stray animal, he was the first person to take it in and give it a home. He had a HUGE soft spot for kids too. I remember when my grandma and grandpa lived on a farm in small town in Nevada, we would always take family vacations there and I remember playing with my Uncle Jim and us playing hide and seek and looking for toys that I’d dropped over the edge of the couch, etc. There is a picture somewhere of me, when I was probably 3 or 4 yrs old, playing with my Uncle Jim. I wish I could find it.

All this being said…I know he made mistakes in life, but my friend Mike summed it up pretty well by saying “We all have our weaknesses and deserve to be loved and remembered despite them.”


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