Sunday, August 30, 2009

Uncle Gerry, Oct. 19, 1939 - Aug. 27, 2009

My Uncle Gerry passed away last Thursday.

My mother made the journey up to see him on Monday.
He was already in the hospital, he had developed pneumonia.
On Monday evening, my mother got to visit with Uncle Gerry, reminisce, and share some laughs.
By Tuesday morning, Uncle Gerry was no longer responding to stimuli.
I'm told that on Thursday morning, before Uncle Gerry passed away, he was able to respond in small acknowledgments to Pat. That's a blessing.

I had such a short time to reconnect with my Uncle. From our brief time together, I found out that Uncle Gerry loved to joke around. I also learned that although he hadn't lived in Boston since he was a child, he was an avid Red Sox and Celtics fan.
One of his first questions for me was to find out if I also was a Red Sox fan. I told him that I was now!

I also found out that as an adult, he was inspired to change careers. After time in the Navy, he had become a truck driver. But that didn't really suit him, so he decided to become a nurse, which he did!

And he loved and admired his "sissy," my Aunt Phyllis. He said the only woman he would put on the same pedestal with Aunt Phyllis was Eleanor Roosevelt!

My Uncle Ronnie also informed me that all the Burke brothers and sisters called Uncle Gerry, "Teddy." Uncle Gerry was the last Burke sibling born, and they said he had the most beautiful red hair, and that he looked just like a wonderful little teddy bear. So, they called him "Teddy," and did so all their lives.

My Uncle Gerry went through some tumultuous years in his young and early adulthood. And like most of us, made some decision that later he would regret. He shared a couple of those regrets with me, (probably too personal to share here).
But even during that tumultuous time, he did something wonderful. He opened his home to my immigrant mother and me. And for my mother and me, it has made all the difference in our lives.

In my final visit with my Uncle Gerry, we had about a 30 minute window of time alone. During that time we talked about Heaven, Jesus, forgiveness, and faith. And then I asked if it would be ok for us to pray together, and we did. I will always treasure that time.

While there is a sense of loss, I also have this hope... a hope that we'll have more time to get caught up when I see him in Heaven. (He assured me that he'd be there).

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