Currently Reading: Just Like Beauty, Lisa Lerner; The Bonesetter's Daughter, Amy Tan.
Currently Listening To: Hamell on Trial. I've got three of his CDs, and I ripped all my favorite songs into a "Best Of" playlist in iTunes to transfer to my iPod. And that's what I'm playing now.
Currently ... eh: I've been adding bits and parts to the review in the last entry all week as I remembered parts of "Rah and the Muggles" that I apparently suppressed when I first posted the entry.
I Waited Too Long To Write This.
I should have written it on Saturday when I first had the idea, because I wanted to write a fun entry. That morning we got our first real snow of the season. In case you haven't gotten the idea by now, I just adore snow. Love, love, love it. One half-assed snowfall can make up for 90 days of slogging through DC's repulsive summer humidity. It makes me forget about all the hot hazy days of running home, jumping in the shower, and getting a butter knife to scrape off the coating of sweat and grime.
I put on my snow boots and coat and headed outside to take some pictures of the snowfall. Before long, Bill joined me and we were chucking snowballs at each other and shrieking and laughing a lot. We made a half-hearted attempt at a snowman, but the snow wasn't good sticky solid snowman snow. It crumbled under pressure.
We rarely get a decent snowstorm around here anymore. The storms we get are almost always of the wimpy "one to two inches that everyone freaks over" variety. I could swear that when I was a kid we got at least one great humdinger per winter. I remember sitting in the living room with my nose pressed against the sliding glass door during the "Blizzard of '77." I watched the snow pile up, up, up against the glass, not wondering if I'd have to go to school the next day as much as wondering if I'd ever be able to go to school again.
But it could be that I'm remembering what I want to remember. I'm awfully good at that these days.
And I was going to write about our fun afternoon in the snow and post some pictures, but for some reason I'm developing an increasing aversion to sitting in front of a computer staring at HTML during my free time. I really meant to do it. Honest.
But on Wednesday morning, Mom called me at work (highly unusual, and we'd already made plans to talk tonight anyhow). I could tell that she'd been crying even before she told me the news: My Uncle Phil died early this morning.
I said in the above-linked entry (written shortly after his 90th birthday party) that a part of me has always believed that Uncle Phil and Aunt Anita would live forever, Phil in particular. He'd been increasingly frail the last few times I'd seen him, but he still seemed as solid and sturdy as a big oak tree. He's always been a big man, not fat but tall and broad and strong; he was a high school basketball coach a lifetime ago in Pennsylvania. I had little doubt that I'd get old and sicken and die, and he and Anita would still be around. Still traveling to Greece or England or Turkey. Still going to the opera. Still there.
I didn't realize until this morning just how much I'd honestly believed that even though I knew better, even though I've been dreading a tearful phone call like this for years now.
I got off the phone with Mom and tried to call my aunt, but got another aunt who was running interference. Anita was resting and didn't want to be disturbed. And who could blame her? She found him that morning at 3 am. Phil had been sick with pneumonia and she'd just taken him home from the hospital that day and he seemed fine, they tell me. She didn't want him to leave the hospital, but he insisted. Raised hell that the staff made him sit in a wheelchair when they released him and took him out to the car, even.
My other aunt told me He was on some medication that made him restless and he decided to stay in his room and watch TV, and Anita went to bed, and around three she woke up and saw that his light was still on, and she went in to check on him. And his feet were still on the floor and he was lying back on the bed. And he was gone.
I don't know what exactly caused his death, and neither does anyone else. And it doesn't really matter, does it? It seems that he died quickly and peacefully without lingering or suffering much. At home. On his terms. If you got to pick how you go, that's probably close to what I'd choose.
I don't know what I'm going to say to Anita besides "I'm so sorry," which seems woefully inadequate. What on earth is there to say to someone who's just lost the man she was married to for 62 years? It hurts to think about it. It's hard to even say her name without tacking his next to it: Anita-and-Phil.
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it all. Like I said before, I pretty much had myself convinced that it would never happen. It's a shock that he's really gone.