my life, my struggles, & my issues have just been shoved into stark perspective for me today. today i got an email from my mom saying that my uncle joe is really sick, the cancer is winning, & he probably doesn't have much longer. i don't even know how to react to it, in a way i'm just kind of numb. obviously i'm sad & i've cried. i've cried today at work while thinking about it. i'm not as close to him as i'd like to be. i'm closer with my uncle john who is also my god father.
quick interjection: joe & john are not biologically related to me. their family took my father in after my grandfather died. the carusos basically raised my dad, called him one of their own, & treated him as one of their own; it was an unofficial adoption basically. i was raised with joe & john as my uncles. their parents as my grandma & grandpa caruso. & it never occurred to me that we had no blood relation, that they had just "adopted" my father & raised him from the time he was 13 & on.
even though john lives in north dakota i'm closer to him than joe. maybe because my dad is closer to john. maybe because john is my god father. maybe because somewhere in my memories i still hold onto the three years i spent in north dakota where he & sharon & jason (my cousin) were my closest family besides my parents. but while i'm closer to john, my uncle joe is someone that i really enjoy having in my life.
he's the kind of a guy that there aren't many around anymore. not saying it's good or bad, just is. he still lives over in the "old neighborhood" where they all grew up in the west 7th area of st. paul. he restores old cars & rides a motorcycle. he has a deep, gruff, gravely voice. his laugh reminds me of santa. if santa was a smoker. besides john he's my dad's oldest friend. not many people hang onto friends that long. my dad'll be 61 in june. he's known the carusos for so much of his life he probably doesn't remember a time without them. i know that i don't have any friends like that. i have some that are close, but not quite.
my uncle joe's time is being counted down now. if each life has a certain number of grains of sand his is almost empty. my dad tried calling his house earlier today & there wasn't any answer. joe may be on his way to the hospital again. my uncle john is stuck in north dakota because of the flooding & now snow that has pretty much shut the state down & isolated them. i'm stuck in limbo just waiting to hear something from someone. i really hope my dad gets to see joe one more time. i know that no one wants their last memory of someone to be when they're sick. but i also think it's important to get another chance to tell someone how much they matter in your life.
for me, one of the last times i saw joe was this past summer at a restaurant down on west 7th. i think it was this past summer. i was there with my parents, my uncle john & aunt sharon, & my brother. it was an italian restaurant & this was after my surgery so i didn't eat much, i only had a small salad. & i couldn't stay long. i don't remember now why i had to rush off. in hindsight it must not have been that important, the reason i couldn't stay. but it seemed like it at the time. but we had a good time, all of us talking & laughing. & it's always so bizarre for me to see this side of my dad, when he gets together with joe & john & they talk about the old times & the old neighborhood & all these stories bubble up about my dad, his childhood, his antics, all these things that i never even knew about. things i never even suspected.
the time i remember before that is at my grandma caruso's funeral. uncle joe was wearing a suit, which is much different than what he usually wears---jeans & a leather jacket is what i always remember. & i read a poem at the service that i wrote for my grandma caruso. & i met his daughter for the first time that i could remember. & her kids. & i had to leave the funeral early to go to a friend's wedding. & on that day i found out that my best friend tina's grandma died. may 13 2007 was one hell of a day, really.
here's some pictures of my uncle joe. i pulled them from his caring bridge website (which is linked above in the first paragraph). i'll update as i find out more. in the mean time, i'm sending lots of love & energy & healing into the universe for my uncle joe, my uncle john, & everyone that loves joe.