Uncle Sam was a robust man with a great sense of humor, who didn't look 81 years old. The last time I saw him was at Christmas time. He did have some health issues as most of us probably do but you would never know it by looking at him. Though he was bald on top he still had jet black hair and no he didn't dye it. His father was exactly the same. He still had jet black hair at 94. On April 14 my sister called him to ask if would like to come up for Easter dinner. The last five years he had spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter with my sisters, brother in law and myself instead of his own daughters, two of which live in the same city as we do and one who lives about twenty miles from here. There is friction between at least 3 of his daughters. I don't know what the story is and frankly I don't want to know. The fourth lives in London. I suppose as to not show any favorites and more probably avoid the drama, he spent it with us. The children of his older sister, my mother. Growing up the holidays were always split, Thanksgiving at our house, Christmas at his. They were always noisy and fun gatherings.
Uncle Sam didn't answer the phone when my sister called him. She left a message. He wasn't home. He wasn't feeling well and he drove himself to the hospital. While he was being examined he had a stroke. We drove down on Wednesday. He was hooked up to all the equipment. His pulse and heartbeat were normal. He had been stabalized but he was about to be checked for brain activity. We waited for the results. A short time later the doctor came out and called his childeren into another room. We knew the results by seeing the look on my cousins faces. They had to make a decision. They made it the next day.
As I write this I have just returned from the wake. The funeral is tomorrow (April 20). We will all be gathering at a local retaurant afterwards.