Uncle Lionel Redux

Sorry this may be mostly about me.

Here are two ways to guarantee a poor sleep.  One: worry that you need to get a good night’s sleep because there is a big day tomorrow.  Two:  worry that you might have the alarm set wrong and be late in the morning.

So I am tired.  The 14 hour road trip might have contributed as well.

We booted it down to Nanton in great time.  But four hours of driving stiffens me up now.  My legs felt like lead weights when we got out of the car at the condo.  There was a whirlwind rush of family as I waited for the blood to circulate again through my legs.

Next we were off to the Baptist church.  Interesting bit of synchronicity – there were at least two other big events going on in Nanton today – the town was packed.  Next the Catholic priest in town was new, but the local Pastor of Church of Christ in Nanton was an old friend of my Uncle’s.  The upshot is that a Catholic family held the funeral in a Baptist church ministered by a Church of Christ pastor.

Despite the other events in town the service was packed.  My cousins put together a slide show and Len and Lee delivered the eulogy.  After that Uncle’s Lionel’s grandkids all got up to say a couple words each about him.  Some were pretty young and some didn’t want to speak directly, but they had all prepared a short piece and the eldest grandkids read and helped the others.  (The grandkids range from small children to the early-mid 20s now.)  It was a highlight since each had a short anecdote that was sincere and insightful.

A theme that was repeated often was the one I alluded to in my last post.  However, most put it more succinctly, Uncle Lionel made friends.  He didn’t move in a room of strangers for very long before he made friends.  And he made friends with everyone.  Once he had made a friend, you were a lifetime friend and he always made time for you.

I was thinking today of one of the last times I saw Uncle Lionel.   It was several years ago when Mom went in for heart surgery.  Uncle Lionel and Aunt Fran came up to be with us.

Now actually Aunt Fran is the person you want with you in the waiting room.  She is calm and patient (for a Bohan).  She also knows what is going on and can raise a ruckus and get answers in that way that only a Mom of 5 children learns how to do.

When I was finally allowed into the recovery room my Mom wasn’t conscious yet.  Because they put you in an ice bath and stop you heart during the surgery she was also still blue and freezing cold.  This was the scariest bit.

I have no idea what my Uncle and Aunt said then, but I remember Uncle Lionel smiling when we were back out in the hall.  That smile was perfect.

There was something childish about Uncle Lionel.  Once again I mean in a good way.  A sense of being joyful and open that you normally find in the very young.  There is also a little bit of mischievousness in that smile too.  I think that may have been part of why he was always making friends and being interested in them.  I dunno.

I should also mention, to give a full picture here, that Uncle Lionel was also an ornery old fart.

Anyway, after the service is when I got lost.  Nanton isn’t the smallest town in Alberta, but it is certainly small enough that getting lost on the way to the cemetery is embarrassing.  Don’t mention this bit to anyone…it is just between you and I.   Fortunately Tim had his iPhone and got us turned around and there in time to not completely miss the interment.

Then we headed to a hall for a late lunch.  Mom floated around and seemed to know everyone the way she does.  Tim interrogated all Uncle Lionel’s grandkids on their current situation and plans for the fall.  I mostly ate food and watched.

Brian brought in some beer towards the end.  I had a quick can in memory. 🙂  Then we said our goodbyes and got back on the road again.

The trip home went smoothly and here I am.  Now it is time for bed.

Nicely done to my cousins for putting together a great service.  You are all still in my thoughts and prayers.  God bless Uncle Lionel.

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