You are one of my teachers. Growing up you taught me what a golden birthday is and celebrated my 10th with me on the blue sun room couch; you taught me about thinly sliced agate held to the light, about tiger's eye and moon stone, and made me long to crack rocks and find treasure. You taught me it was possible to make chicken stock crystal clear, and to grow tolerance for hot sauce that would burn your fingers. You taught me it is important to kill frogs when you catch them for frog legs and not just knock them out, and that it's possible to take down a bee hive with a rifle. You taught me first about mustaches and how you could curl the ends, and about the crispness if Peking duck skin. You taught me about my mom as a little sister, how you hit her with a bee bee, told me about cousins who kept squirrels, and your father who performed his own surgery. At Nana's kitchen table beside silver wallpaper, you told stories because you, of course, were the story keeper.
This last week, I have learned more from you. I have discovered your gentleness and how you loved faithfully even when little love came back. I have realized small ways - all of which were enormous efforts for you -- that you lived richly: Standing on your balcony the night you died, I was struck by your 9th story garden, dozens of seedlings watered and waiting. You'd insisted on buying and hauling all those insanely heavy bags of dirt, which to me seemed impractical, because -- I now see -- instead of ease you were choosing beauty - flowers and purple radishes in your hand. Planting your boxes was one of the many things you could have refused to do because it was too hard, too complicated to maneuver in your wheelchair, too cumbersome to maintain. But instead you did it, seemingly undaunted, just like you whipped up miso soup from scratch for my children, baked me brownies on my birthday, and scootered off to whole foods when Taylor Bay scallops were on sale. I will think of you and hope I to be like you in that way.
The most important thing i learned from you this week is humility. That is never an easy lesson but is one which God is always in. There was much of you I missed these last 8 months and for both of us, I am sorry. I've had to learn a difficult way that there are some things we can't do over. But we do get to be forgiven, and now you know that more than any of us here.
You, my uncle Peter, have finally been released. I picture you saturated in the Love we crave to our bones, for which you waited so long, filled and overflowing. You may not have gone by direct ascension, the way you always said you would, but your leaving seems to have been so soft that maybe you just did.
You always told us when we left the house to "make everyone glad you're there" -- and now, to you, I say the same, knowing you already have.