True caring lasts a lifetime. Written for senior mods' contest.
|Decades ago when I was six, I dreamt of God wearing a black, hooded cloak and chasing me all over the house. At the end, He gave up, and He told me that He was very sad because I ran away from Him. When I started to tell my dream, my mother almost spanked me for thinking of God in such terms. Granduncle, who was my mother's uncle, interjected immediately and said that God chased me because He loved me.
Following that, all through my childhood years, I kept wondering about God, creation, and why there were so many religions. Also, that vague thing called death scared me immensely.
After my father died when I was seven, Granduncle took over himself to be a father figure to me. He was the one to read and praise my scribbles and admire my distorted drawings with enthusiasm. He was the one to take me around to the fairs, to the circus, and to wherever else I wanted to go. I loved to watch him work with wood in a side closet which he had converted to a studio of sorts.
A few years later when I was twelve, I started pining for a bookcase in my room. As soon as I had learned to read, I was conquered by an undying love for books. Several shelves around the house and in my room were for my books, but I wanted my own big bookcase. Since my mother's finances were not enviable at the moment, purchase of such an item was out of the question. Granduncle promised he'd build one for me, but first, he said he had to get the wood for it. A couple of days later, however, he suddenly knelt over and had a heart attack. Since it was summer and school was out, I stood glued to his bedside several hours every day.
I had an aunt who was his daughter and "my aunt" to me. One day, she and I were alone with Granduncle in his room. Granduncle told us to close the door and come near his bed because he had something important to tell only to the two of us.
He told us that when he had his heart attack, he had died and crossed over to the other side. He didn't tell it to the others because it was necessary only for the two of us to know. The rest of the family wouldn't understand and would even be offended. He told us that dying was not something to fear since it is all so splendid and loving over there. He said that everyone here on earth, regardless of religion or race, was cared for and was watched lovingly, even those who erred. He told us that death was beautiful and nothing to be afraid of. Then looking at me, he added, "I came back because I have a promise to keep."
Granduncle got better and better as the days passed. By the end of the summer, he seemed to be his old self again.
One day, a truck stopped in front of the house and delivered some wood planks. It was a surprise to the family because no one knew what they were for. He said, "I ordered them. They are for the bookcase." Everyone objected. None of us wanted him to exert himself unnecessarily. I told him I didn't want the bookcase anymore for I was doing just fine without it, but he wouldn't take no for an answer.
While he worked on the bookcase, I watched him intently. He began slowly, with difficulty at first, but then he gained momentum. As he measured, sawed, and hammered, he kept on talking to me and telling me many things. Things like, "Perfection is an illusion. It is okay to make mistakes because you may learn from them. Self knowledge, on the other hand, is more important. Not everyone will like everything you do. It is important that you are comfortable with your choices."
When the construction of the bookcase was finished, he asked what color I wanted it to be. "Blue!" I said.
"So it will be blue," he answered. My mother objected to the color. According to her, blue was not the color for furniture, but Granduncle defended my choice. When the bookcase was finished, two of my older cousins came to carry it to my room. I was ecstatic! Probably the bookcase in that room could be jarring to many decorators' eyes. Yet it was my most favorite possession for years.
A month after finishing the bookcase, Granduncle suddenly passed away. Although I was sad for a long time, I consoled myself that he was in a place where he would be very happy and well cared for.
Years later, I found out that during his short recovery period Granduncle had given a considerable sum of money to my mother for my education. I owe not only my education but most of all the positive things in my life to this true human being.
For a very long time, my aunt and I kept musing over the day when he had told us about his experience with dying. My aunt told me that death had scared her also, but after that talk with Granduncle, her fears were erased.
Several years ago, my aunt passed away. During her last minutes I sat with her and held her hand. When she died, she had a smile on her face.
Because of Granduncle, I have never been afraid of death. Neither do I think any one religion is any better than any other. I learned from him many things, but the most radiant lesson is that people are important, no matter who, what, or where they are. I'm also sure that death is a glorious event, and when my time comes, I will be ready.