|A. Lewis Wight, Father, Brother, Uncle|
Death is a part of everyday life; the end of night, the end of day, a flower fading and falling. Little deaths happen around us all the time. Then there are the big ones. Yesterday my mother lost another brother. She has lost two in this year, one in February and now this one, who was closest to her in age. My sister and I lost another uncle.
With my Uncle Lew dying yesterday, in a tragic and beautiful way, I felt the presence of what was happening all day long, like waves lapping on a shore in a never-ending cycle. I didn’t moan and wail or cry an ocean. Grief didn’t pour over me or take me over. I just lived and breathed and felt every moment that his life would end this day. I was pointedly aware of it. I did weep, yet knew I mourned the man I’d known years ago, not the man dying now. I wished him peace. I sent positive loving thoughts to not only the two children of his who were with him and making hard choices, but to their siblings as well, knowing this day I wasn’t the only one deeply aware of what was happening. I felt wrapped in a blanket of impending death/release/love and family. I felt we were all in one place even though we were physically spread over the US. Hearts and minds blended together, focused on Lew making his way out of this world into the next in the best, kindest way. The awareness of regrets, of past mistakes/judgments/losses remained, but took a back seat to the necessity of honoring his life and how he touched all of us.
Because my uncle was not an easy man. We often felt he was born two centuries too late. A cowboy, rough and opinionated, he wasn’t a man at ease in his own skin. He made terrible mistakes and paid terrible prices for them. The one thing I know in my heart— that we all know/knew, even if he couldn’t express it the way we would have liked—was that he loved his children beyond mortal love. He lost them a long time ago because of his own actions, but losing them didn’t make him stop loving them. In the end, yesterday, two of them stood with him, amongst American Indian Prayer and Willie Nelsons’ crooning, to honor his love for them and to be present with their own; his first son, his last daughter, together representing all their siblings before, in between and after. Lew loved each of them with the same fierceness, wildness and catastrophe with which he lived his life.
I will miss him as I have long missed the man he once was. I grieve for my mother losing her brother. I grieve for his children and the opportunities he wasted and therefore they missed. But most of all I hope he is at peace, that he’s riding that far range with a six gun on his hip, a rifle slung under his leg, and his buckskins flying in the wind of the open prairie, his steed taking him to where he should have been all along.
|Gun collector/historian extraordinaire|