Ed was my uncle, my dad’s brother. He never married and had no children. In spite of having 7 brothers and sisters and 15 nieces and nephews, he and I ended up as the only ones rubbing along together in suburban Sydney these past 5 or so years. As a result, we relied on each other a bit. He was chronically unwell and I was his next of kin and held power of attorney. When I had a rough financial patch last year, he kept my kids fed with meat won at the RSL Club raffles – regular as clockwork, every Thursday night. The only payment I made was to make the 15 minute drive up to the Club to pick him up and drop him home after the raffles. It wasn’t a heavy burden most of the time. Now I’m an executor of his estate.
My dad’s circle of 8 has now diminished to 7. Ed was larger than life (quite literally) and the one who always knew what everyone else was doing – all the time. He kept in touch by phone with just about all of us, he knew all our kids, our marriage problems, our promotions at work, our fights with our neighbours. He was just ‘there’.
Don’t get me wrong – he was by no means perfect. In fact, he was difficult, cantankerous and opinionated. If he wanted something, he tracked me down no matter where I was. Now my phone doesn’t ring at 7pm every night. Now there’s no ‘oh that’ll be Uncle Ed – you answer it!’ . Now there’s no more conferences with hospital staff as they try to talk him into making better choices for his health – again.
I miss him already though. We farewell him on Wednesday, with an RSL funeral, the last post, the whole bit. I did tell him I loved him before he died – I think he liked that.