My brother, Jeff, had cerebral palsy and was in a wheel chair his entire life. He had limited speech ability, which he lost as he got older. In his teen years he had several invasive surgeries including getting a rod in his back because he had scoliosis. He lost the ability to eat and had a feeding tube.
Still, he had a wicked sense of humor, and thanks to his communication board, he greeted people as they entered church every week.
Bookworm & Uncle Jeff: The Perfect Duo
When my son was born, Jeff was scared of Bookworm because he was so small (even though he weighed almost 10 pounds at birth!). In the 3.5 years that they had together, Jeff and Bookworm developed a wonderful relationship. Bookworm had no fears of my brother or his condition; he was just Uncle Jeff, and Uncle Jeff happened to be in a wheelchair.
In the beginning of October, 2007 when my brother was 29, he got pneumonia, and he couldn’t shake it. He was in the hospital for nearly two weeks, and even then Bookworm wasn’t scared. He would climb up in the hospital bed and cuddle with my brother and talk to him and kiss him.
Though I knew my brother was very sick, I expected him to rebound. . . but he didn’t. He passed away in mid-October. We were all devastated, especially Bookworm. Losing Uncle Jeff was his first experience with losing someone close to him, and it came at too early of an age.
Even now, Bookworm can get teary eyed thinking of Uncle Jeff because he misses him so much.
Recognizing Your Loved One’s Important Days Even After They Are Gone
Every year since he’s been gone, there is a sense of emptiness on Jeff’s birthday. My brother LOVED getting gifts and celebrating his birthday.
Each year when his birthday passes and we do nothing, I feel a sadness and emptiness. My mom feels the same way.
This year, we decided to do something different.
Grandma came to visit over Uncle Jeff’s birthday weekend, and she wrapped and brought each of my kids one of Uncle Jeff’s board games that he liked. (Sadly, my girls were born after Uncle Jeff passed away, so they never knew him. Bookworm loves to tell them stories about him, though.)
We ate dinner, and then we took out a cake that the kids had helped me make earlier, and we sang Happy Birthday to Uncle Jeff. We ate the cake and talked about him, reminiscing about some of our favorite memories. Afterward, the kids opened their board games, and the next day grandma played some of the games with the kids.
We still miss Uncle Jeff, and Bookworm did cry when he opened his game because he missed Uncle Jeff all over again, but the day didn’t feel so empty. It felt like Uncle Jeff was right there with us celebrating.
How do you remember those you love who have passed?
I shared this post at Gratituesday.