So my uncle Jim was diagnosed with late stage multiple myeloma, a blood-plasma cancer with a max prognosis of four years. He’s not in particularly good health already, so he’s dealing with cancer and chemo on top of other complicating factors, like liver failure. My cousin has made up a page to keep us all updated since we live scattered all over. It’s so hard to be going through this. Too many members of my family are sick or dying or gone these days.
I grew up very close with my family, both sides of it. On my mom’s side, there were five (living) children, from oldest to youngest: Karen, Belinda, Dawna (my mom), Hooti**, and Travis. Karen married Jim, Belinda married Greg, and my mom married my dad (Andrew). Greg, Jim, my dad, my mom, and I’m not sure who else all went to the same college, and Greg, Jim, and Belinda all served in the army band. Karen and Belinda had their first kid within months of each other, and two years later, they had their second kids within one day of each other. I was born six weeks after that. My siblings followed, with my youngest sister born within weeks of Karen’s third child. In other words, my cousins and I were all very close in age, and grew up together. (Notably, Hooti married my aunt Cheri when I was ten, and I gained two step-cousins. Travis has not yet married or had kids.)
This photo is from around 1981-1982, when the youngest three of the cousins were not yet born, and Hooti hadn’t yet gotten married. Top row, from left to right: Hooti, my grandma, my grandpa, Travis, Jim. Second row: my dad, my mom, Belinda, Greg, Karen. Kids: me, my sister Becky, Jen, Jacob, Byron, Nathan.
I chose this picture, rather than a later one that would include my aunt Cheri, step-cousins, and the younger cousins, for a specific reason. When I was around this age (about 2-3 years old), my Uncle Jim was my very favorite uncle. He was tall and strong and could swing me around. I felt safe with him and always wanted to go to him first when family got together. I only remember snatches from that time period, but I remember that. On my dad’s side of the family, his youngest sister, Mary, was my favorite. On my mom’s side, it was my uncle Jim.
Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to see much of Jim since I became an adult. After Morrigan was born, I moved up north for about five years. By the time I moved back down, my aunt Karen was already having a lot of problems (heart attacks, strokes, other problems likely related to the genetic high blood iron disorder that runs in my family), and I didn’t get to see that branch of the family as often. Karen passed away in 2009, and I’ve only seen Jim maybe 3-4 times since then. That makes all this particularly hard. I’m glad I got to go see him on the 1st, and I hope I have more opportunities to do so before it’s too late.
**My uncle’s real name isn’t Hooti. It’s Leonard, like my grandpa, but everyone called my grandpa Metz (“meats”) and my uncle Hooti. I have no idea why. It’s just always been that way.