I got a call today from my Aunt Betty in North Carolina, telling my that my Uncle Norris (below center) had died last Thursday. He was 83 or 84, and I had written a little bit about him here. We talked for a while, and shed a few tears over the phone. My aunt is not a demonstrative woman, but I think we have become closer over the last few years, and especially since my mother died. She was my father’s sister, but my mother was friends to the whole family before she and my father even started dating.
This photo was taken in 1967, I think, and it’s one of the few times more than one or two of my extended family members were together in the same place. It was taken on the front porch of my grandparent’s house in Newton, NC. From left, is my grandaddy, Bill, my cousin E, my mom, me, my cousin B, Uncle Norris behind her, my brother S, my aunt Betty behind him, my sister M, my cousin F, and my grandmother, Helen (she of the funeral pie). My youngest brother, P. must have been down for a nap, as he was only in diapers at the time. My father took the picture in order to avoid being in it.
I don’t really remember this day, but I know it was when my dad packed us up and moved us from Oklahoma to Georgia. We spent a month at that house in North Carolina while he got himself situated in Atlanta, getting a house ready for us, etc. The cousins lived at that time in Raleigh/Durham, NC, so it wasn’t too far for them to come see us while we visited. There was a lake involved, and a canoe, I think. We must have had fun because we all look pretty happy.
I most remember my uncle as a man who was happy with his life. I think he and my aunt had one of the best marriages I’ve seen. They loved each other dearly and deeply, and I know she will miss him terribly. He was a man of faith. I don’t remember hearing him preach, but I do remember how much he helped my dad when he was terminally ill, allowing him to come to terms with things, and giving him, or showing him how to achieve, much-needed peace.
Today, my aunt told me that the day he died, she and the hospice nurse took him outside in his wheelchair. He was still at home, and hospice came to him there. He was outside in the warm North Carolina sun, on my cousin’s farm, where she had built them a house after years of living in church housing. When he was ready to go back in, my aunt and the nurse assured him that he didn’t need to worry about them dropping him, because sometimes he got nervous when they lifted him.
She said they lifted him out of the chair and onto the bed, and by the time they had him settled, he was gone. I think that is so beautiful, so wonderful. To go outside, see the world one last time, and then to go home at last. He was a good man, and he deserved a peaceful death.
Rest in peace, Uncle Norris.
Your niece, L