My Uncle Mac died this morning. He’d gone into the hospital for a relatively minor procedure, but they wanted to keep him overnight for observation. About two o’clock this morning, he had a massive heart attack. He was my mom’s last surviving brother, and of the ten children in my mom’s family, only three are left now.

Uncle Mac was, to put it mildly, a character. He’d had a colorful life, and thanks in no small part to booze, he made his share of mistakes. He had a wealth of physical problems over the last few years, some of which were probably caused or exacerbated by the drinking, others just the luck of the draw. The men in my mom’s family tend to be inundated with health issues- heart disease and diabetes chief among them. The women, on the other hand, have an incredible longevity, although we do tend to go a little crazy and/or suffer from Alzheimer’s… so I’m not always sure which is better, although it means I’ll probably have my mom with me for several more years, and I’m glad of that.

But I digress. As I said, Uncle Mac was a character. He got me my very first bottle of corn liquor. And although the jug I have now didn’t come from him, I’ll do a shot in his honor later tonight. One time, Uncle Mac thought it would be a good idea to have the UPS man deliver the corn liquor to me, since it’s harder to find where I live. I convinced him this was NOT a good idea. But he always felt weird asking my mom, his sister, to get it to me. Some odd sort of honor in protecting his sister from anything that might at all be viewed as unsavory, despite what he himself might do.

Uncle Mac had a soft spot for my mom and for their youngest sister. I know he must have caused them much consternation, but he called them often and ended every call to them with “I love you, Sis.” And whether he’d had a few beers or not, he meant every word.

He’d also call me on occasion, and we’d chat for a bit about what was going on in my life and in his. I think, of the cousins in my generation, I’m the only one who had any real interaction with him. He was salty and cantankerous and lived life by his rules, and for that I loved him. So when I updated my Facebook status this morning with a little “RIP” dedication to him, and a few words about his rebelliousness and the fact that I would be toasting him later this evening, most of my friends loved the spirit of what I had said.

One cousin sent me a private message asking if it was our “uncle” who had been too drunk to attend one funeral and whose drinking had caused his health to be so bad he couldn’t travel to attend another one. That pissed me off. I know he was in no shape to attend the funeral she mentioned. When his oldest sister died, it threw him for a loop and he did turn to drinking. I’m not excusing him, I’m just able to see that with his disease, he didn’t know what else to do at the time. And he did have crippling gout and other issues that made it difficult for him to travel. I know he hated not being able to attend some of the other funerals. I understand that my cousin has some resentment towards him. That’s her baggage. She has no real relationship with him. But it pissed me off that she brought her baggage to me. I’ve decided to not respond. There’s nothing to be gained from it.

The fact of it is, that of my mom’s six brothers, Mac was the one who called her the most, just to chat and check on her, especially in the years after my dad died (in all fairness, three of mom’s brothers had died before my dad, so, you know, them calling her would have been really freaky- but you get my point). That my cousin is making comments that take away from the relationship between Mac and my mom makes me angry. My mom’s feelings would be so hurt if she saw the note my cousin sent to me. Thankfully, no one in my family reads my blog, so I’m pretty sure what I’m saying here won’t get back to them, but if it does I’ll deal with the repercussions.

So,Uncle Mac, I’m sure you’re cutting up and raising a little hell wherever you are. I know you had some regrets in your later years, and I know you made peace with what really mattered. Cheers.

Update – I don’t think I’ve ever updated a post before, but I wanted to share what I learned about arrangements for my Uncle. There are none. He left instructions that he wanted no fuss, and that he wanted his body to be donated to science. I’ve often thought the same thing myself- makes me wonder if I get it from him. But I thought that was an incredibly selfless thing to do. It’s sad, in a way, because I don’t know if we as a family will come together to mourn/send him off. But what a gift to give your body in this way. Because of his health problems, he couldn’t donate his organs. But still, someone might be save by what he’s doing. Cheers again.