When I was growing up in New York, aside from my parents and my brother, my only close family was my uncle. He was, hands down, my favourite person in the world. The cool uncle that didn’t actually take on any responsibility. The fun one. I had no problem with his man-child lifestyle until I’d grown up a bit. After moving to Canada, we still managed to hold onto that bond we had. He’d find out that I’ve got a new hobby and buy the best of whatever it was I’d needed that particular month. He’d never missed a birthday. I’d get called or texts every week, just to catch up. He started to tell me things he wouldn’t ever dare tell the rest of my family. We were friends. He was probably the first person to start treating me like an adult. He’d ask for my advice regularly. He’d even take that advice.. every once in a while. Cutting him out of my life was probably the first real decision I’ve had to make in my life.
So, my uncle had been having a few health issues for a while. He was living alone, drinking excessively, smoking constantly, and probably not eating very well. The health problems were specifically with his heart, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that it could all have been completely preventable if he didn’t have such a shitty lifestyle. When he’d call, he would keep up this front for my family. He’d go on about how things were looking up and he was making all these great lifestyle choices that were sure to improve his health in no time. As soon as it was just the two of us talking, though, all that went away. He’d sob and vent about how he’s probably never getting better. He wouldn’t say it outright, at first. I’d kept it to myself for the most part because I didn’t want him to feel betrayed. It was nice to know that he’d felt comfortable enough with me to be honest about his life. I wanted to hold onto that for as long as I could, because I knew it wouldn’t last forever. Our last conversation was the summer I’d turned seventeen. We were on Skype and he’d been showing me around the coffee shop he’d owned at the time. The conversation went on like usual – he vented about how shitty he thought everything was, blaming the world for things he mostly brought upon himself. What got to me about this particular call, though, is that, towards the end of it, he said to me: “When I’m gone, just forget me.” That’s a white flag. I don’t do white flags. I chose not to wait ‘til he was gone to take his advice. From then on, every call was missed, every message was left unread. I’m not sure what it was, but one day I decided to listen to one of the voicemails he’d left me. It ended up being the last voicemail he would leave me. In it, he told me to consider him dead; to never bother trying to contact him again. Well, that was a bit unnecessary. I found out shortly after that he’d been complaining to my parents about my ignoring him. He kept suggesting to them that I was doing drugs. I’m not entirely sure how he’d come to that conclusion, but eh. That set my dad off, though – how dare someone say something like that about his daughter?
Anyway, he’d been trying to get back into contact with me for a couple of weeks now. I’m not entirely sure why, and I’m still deciding whether or not it’s worth calling back to find out. At the very least, I know he’s alive and well enough to blow my phone up. I’m content with that, for now.