Parkinson’s Disease landed my uncle, Ransford Galbraith, in the hospital. He’d never live at home again doctors said. On my last visit with him, his eyes watered with tears. “I told my granddaughters not to worry if I cry . . . ” his voice soft, had lost its strength. “My grandfather cried in his last days and now it’s my turn.”
He reminded me as he often had that I’d been the first baby he’d looked after. My parents were busy in the evenings and he, my mother’s youngest brother, stayed in the house to mind me. “I guess I didn’t do too badly,” he teased.
We talked about aunts, uncles, cousins, my parents, his parents, his children, mine – people and relationships. When all is said and done, as far as earthly matters go, relationships are what really matter.
Throughout our talk, tears glistened in Uncle Ransford’s faded blue eyes. “I’m not really depressed, you know.”
I nodded. I wouldn’t blame him if he was depressed. A strong mind imprisoned in a weak body – frustrating for a man as vital as my farmer, businessman uncle.
“Just weepy?” I asked.
“Yes . . . weepy,” he whispered.
I thought of what he’d said about his grandfather, my great-grandfather, that he’d been
weepy in his last days. Is the shedding of tears a method of melting away from the earth? Do our tears form a curtain that separates us from the frivolous past? Are they the line in the sand that signals the end of our working days, the end of our worries? Interesting that he remembered his grandpa’s tears . . . the picture of that old man in his last days had been there in his memory since robust teenage days, lingering, latent. Now tears dripped from his eyes.
I didn’t expect this conversation to be our last . .. but it was. He died a few days later and was buried this past week. His tears, his recounting of a precious memory he and I had shared when I was too young to remember . . . these small events connect us to our folks. They give a sense of belonging, we learn our place on this earth through the people we’re connected to.
Connections to our people should be treasured . . . no amount of money or fame can take the place of knowing who we are and where we come from.