Thursday has become my visiting day. Every Thursday morning, I drop my oldest and the neighbour boy off at school, take my middle boy to dance class, after which I have tea with a friend. Some days I lunch with my grandmother after the tea/playdate. Today was one of the fuller Thursdays, one in which something magical occurred.
My grandmother lives with one of her sons, the only one who never married. Uncle Dennis and my father are only 13 months apart in age. Growing up, they did everything together. My dad was even held back a grade so he could be with his brother and keep him in line. Most of my dad's stories from when he was little start with "One time, me and Dennis..." They were like peas in a pod.
As they grew older, their paths diverged. Responsibility seems bred into my dad. He quit school at 16 to work in a factory, worked hard on the family farm, and parented his youngest brother. My uncle went a different way, falling in with a crowd that did drugs. Family legend offers up several different versions of what happened next, but when he was 18 my uncle took(or was forcibly given) a massive overdose. He should have died. He didn't, but was left severely damaged. I'm not sure if he's actually schizophrenic or if that's just the easiest way to describe it. All of this happened long before my birth, so I have never known my uncle whole.
Consequently, my uncle was never someone I or any of the cousins warmed up to. But as an adult, I have been trying to be kind, to have a conversation with him while I'm there, even sometimes to offer a hug. Lately my goal has been to make him smile even once during each visit. Reminiscing about his adventures with my dad typically brings a smile to his face. Something else did today.
At dinner, my uncle sat next to my youngest. During the meal, Kian would turn to my uncle and smile at him. Kian put his feet on Dennis' legs or made faces at him. At those times, I would see my uncle offer up a shy smile. Then, just as we were leaving, I asked Kian if he would like to give my uncle a hug. Without hesitation, Kian wrapped his arms around Dennis' legs. Unexpectedly, Dennis reached down and swooped Kian up into his arms. As he held my little boy, he had the biggest smile I have ever seen on his face. I can't even type this without crying as it was such a beautiful special moment. My uncle has one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen, much like my father's. He has so little reason to smile that when he does it is even more precious.
I don't know how to finish this post. I'm bad at summing up. But I must say that today's encounter causes me to yearn for Heaven because there my uncle will be whole. His brain will be healed, he won't be scary anymore and he will have much to smile about. It's easy to get wrapped up in this existence to the point that the thought of Jesus returning fills us with dread because we have so much to accomplish. I've been asking God to make me hunger for my heavenly home(or I've been thinking I should ask-I can't remember which). After today, I am a wee bit more homesick for heaven and filled with a desire to see my uncle, to see all of us, healed and perfect, the way we were originally meant to be.