English 1020 C12
To the Grave Without a Goodbye
The roar of the fiery, red diesel’s engine rattled through the house as the tire’s screeched to a halt. Peering through the blinds, I could see the size 12s, intent in each footstep towards my grandparent’s door. The cold March weather of last year matched the iciness in my uncle’s eyes. Nothing seemed to be on the television, not paying much attention at my uncle’s appearance. From the back of the house I could hear the anger in his voice. I noticed that my name was being mentioned. Being six-foot-one and working on construction his whole life, I didn’t want to find out what was being said that bad.
As he left, I walked into to the kitchen to where my grandmother was sitting. “What was that all about?” I asked.
“Oh. He’s just in a bad mood and thinks that you have his twenty-two rifle that was in the closet. He’s had that gun since he was little. He came and saw it in the closet where you keep yours and thinks you took it because you’re the only one who hunts. He grabbed it and just walked out.”
My uncle was definitely a man’s man. He drove a midnight blue chopper, loved fishing, watching NASCAR, but more than anything, he loved guns. As an adolescent, he would talk rifles, shotguns, and handguns with me. We had always shared a bond through guns. And to think that I could have taken something from him angered me.
I could feel my cheeks begin to warm. How could he think that I took his gun? I walked in my bedroom, and noticed that my gun was missing. The walnut stock resembled his, so I guess he thought mine was his. He’s always had a temper, but that doesn’t entitle to take it out on me. Enraged by the fact that he took my rifle thinking it was his, I felt like the best thing to do at this point was go to bed early and sleep it off.
“Tyler! Wake up!”
“It’s Lanny. He’s dead. They found him lying in his kitchen.”
I noticed the chill of my spines as I struggled for breath. I don’t think my mind could grasp what I had just heard. Springing from the bed, and dressing myself in the process, I grabbed my keys and headed for the door.
The twenty mile drive to Harrisburg seemed to be a never ending trip, with thoughts racing through my mind. Hands still shaking as I pulled into the drive, sights of ambulances filled the neighborhood roads. I walked in the front door to the sight of my uncle lying in the middle of the kitchen floor. Tears filled my eyes as did all the rest of my family standing around the paramedics. My heart sank to the words of my ghost-like appearance of my grandmother. “How could this have happened? You’re not supposed to outlive your children,” she said with despair.
The lead medic said that when he got up to fix his cup of coffee, he went into cardiac arrest and had a heart attack. It felt as though my legs gave out, falling to my knees in a mix of despair and confusion. How could he go? He was only fifty-four. Why was being mad at him and choosing not to talk to him the last chance I had to see him? They carted his body off, leaving the house in mourning.
Later my aunt said,”Last night he found his gun in the attic, and that he realized he made a mistake. He felt so bad for thinking that you took it. He told me that he was coming by to bring it back and apologize in the morning. I feel you should know that.” She’d known that we had anger towards each other.
That was the farthest thing from my mind right now. I didn’t care whose it was. I just wanted my uncle back. With days passing, I felt the only thing I could do to make up for not getting to say goodbye to him, was to write a letter to him and recite it at his funeral. I looked at many letters online that people had written to their loved ones and found a poem from Sue Ernest called the road traveled for inspiration. This was a perfect one to tell at the funeral after tweaking a few lines. Making sure I told each and every family member I loved them, now knowing that anyway could be your last, I went to bed in a sense of contempt. This poem made me reminisce all of the memories we had, and I based my prayers that night off of the poem.
A few days later at the funeral, with everyone laying flowers down at his casket, I clung to my grandmother as we stood up in front of everyone. With all eyes on us, I began to read:
Dear uncle Lanny, I love you so much;
I don’t know where to start.
You made foundations on schools and churches,
But you were the foundation of our hearts.
I would give up anything, just to hear your voice again.
And make you live the happiest life.
And stop you from your pain.
But God whispered come to me.
And you rose up high.
You went up to heaven,
And I never got the chance to say goodbye.
You were a bike and got to take that final ride.
But it’s so much better, now that God is riding at your side.
And one thing I know for a fact.
God will always have your back.
And as we reach this road trips end,
I know in my heart we’ll meet again.
Listen every night, and you’ll hear me say,
Goodnight uncle Lanny. I missed you today.