I called Great-Aunt Carolyn when I got to Spokane, and she said, “Where are you?”
“Here,” I told her. “I’m here, just a little turned around. What cross street am I looking for?”
She filled me in, and added, “Ed is already downstairs waiting for you.”
Ed, my great-uncle, turned 97 this year. But when I got to the assisted living facility, he was standing outside with his walker, keeping a sharp eye out. I rolled down the window and said, “Hey, soldier, going my way?” I always liked to make him laugh, because he looked just like his older sister, my grandmother, when he got that twinkle in his eye.
I say ‘looked’ because last month he passed away—just in time, his daughter said, for him to spend Veterans’ Day with his buddies. I could tell he missed them, the last time we spoke. Over and over he said, “It was a good life.”
Yes, sir. Yes, it was.
I wish you could have met my Uncle Ed. He was like a meteor in my life—he’d soar in with his stories and his larger-than-life persona, and I wanted so much to be adventurous like him. When he heard I was driving across the country, and planned to stop and visit, he said, “I used to do stupid stuff like that, when I was your age.”
I laughed. It was exactly what I had in mind when I set out.