My Uncle Jackie

By A Wee Bit of Cake - September 27, 2016

I keep deleting what I'm trying to say and think of a good introduction but if I'm honest this is a hard post to write. Last Sunday, 18th September, my Great-Uncle Jackie sadly passed away at the ripe old age of 81.

On Sunday afternoon Mr T sent me upstairs for a nap as I was exhausted due to Ethan going through a sleep regression and waking every single hour between 7pm-7am for the previous two nights. I just felt myself drifting over when my phone rang and mum's name flashed up. Initially I considered ignoring it but something told me to answer it. Mum told me my Uncle Jackie had been found collapsed at home and was currently in hospital with a suspected heart attack. Straight away that was me wide awake, I just couldn't settle.

A few hours later Mum called back to say he wasn't going to make it and it floored me. She said he could die that night or it could be later in the week, the doctors just didn't know. I found it so hard to process even though deep down we have all been expecting it for a long time. My Great-Aunt Nellie (who I wrote about here) died 5 years ago and since then my Uncle Jackie has just been existing and wanting to die so they could be together again.

As we didn't know when it was going to happen I told mum to text me if anything happened overnight as I would be up at some point with Ethan. Towards midnight he was really unsettled and I was sat in his room cuddling him, trying to get him over when Mr T walked in, stood there for a minute then left. Straight away I had a feeling then he walked back in, handed me my phone and said "your mum has text." He didn't need to say any more. I held Ethan and I cried. I cried for the loss of a special man, a man who my brothers and I all saw as an honorary Granda. I knew it was coming but it left me heartbroken.

My grandparents died when I was little so growing up my Aunt Nellie and Uncle Jackie stepped into the role of grandparents for me and my 3 brothers. Every time I was back home for a visit I tried to see them, they were always top of the list. After my Aunt Nellie died I still tried to see my Uncle Jackie but he was getting more frail and wasn't always up for visitors.

When Mr T and I got married I hoped so much that he would make it to the wedding to which he did and when we found out we were expecting Ethan I clung to the hope that he would still be around when I gave birth. Thankfully, back in April my Uncle Jackie got to meet Ethan and I couldn't have been more proud. Seeing the oldest and youngest member of our family together was a moment I will cherish forever.

As soon as I heard the news of his passing I booked a flight back home. Mr T wanted to come too but work would only grant him one day off and it was expensive enough costing £150 for my flight never mind the £300 it was going to cost for his.

The Irish wake is a funny old thing, the body is brought home and the coffin is kept open allowing friends and family to pay their respects over a couple of days. Endless cups of tea are consumed, visitors turn up armed with supplies, from toilet roll to packets of biscuits and bottles of milk and memories are shared.

I'm not great with dead bodies, let's be honest - who is? but I knew I had to see my Uncle Jackie one last time and say goodbye. I flew in on Tuesday evening but the house was so busy there just wasn't a quiet moment. The following morning before the funeral I knew it was a case of now or never so I dragged my brother into the front room with me and said my goodbyes. It was sad to see how much he had deteriorated since we last saw him in April but at the same time he looked so peaceful. My auntie told me when the priest came to anoint him he got really excited as he knew his time was up and in an odd way that gave me great comfort. He didn't die alone, his family were around him as he peacefully passed away.

My family is fairly big but we are extremely close knit too. Between us all we made the funeral very personal and intimate. One of my brothers played the violin and guitar at the ceremony and the burial, another brother and cousin assisted in the Offertory, other cousins did the Readings and all the men helped to carry the coffin from the house to the Church.

I found the day hard but comforting too. All my Uncle Jackie wanted was to be with my Aunt Nellie again and after 5 long years that wish was granted. I will never forget either of them, their memories will live on in all of us and I will make sure Ethan knows all about them. I'm sad neither of them will see Ethan grow up but I know they are together again and that is all that matters.

I hope you enjoyed your send-off Uncle Jackie, make sure you keep dancing with your Nellie up there xxx

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