This week kicked off with Memorial Day on Monday. For most North Americans, this day means a three day weekend of BBQs to welcome the warm summer days and longer evenings. It also means that it is now officially acceptable to wear white pants in public.
For any foreigners that may not be familiar with this holiday, North Americans celebrate Memorial Day to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service.
But I now have a new reason to celebrate Memorial Day: to commemorate both my Dad (who passed away two years ago on June 5th) and my Uncle Mike, who just passed away this past Monday. On Memorial Day.They were brothers, the only two boys of my Grandma Bernie, who at 92 years old has now outlived her ex-husband AND her two sons. My father was 63 years old when he passed away. Cancer. My uncle was 62 years old. He was paraplegic, also suffered from cancer and other ailments. And they passed away in the same week. This week of Memorial Day.
This Watson Memorial Week.
I spent the first anniversary of my Dad’s death in the fisherman village of Cadaques, on the northeastern coast of Spain. I remember sitting in the Casino cafe, watching the water and writing about my Dad. Coincidentally enough, tomorrow, on the second anniversary of his death, I will once again find myself in Cadaques. Perhaps my Dad, who’s ashes were cast to sea off the Coast of San Diego, swims to visit me each year in this mystical pueblo. We visited Cadaques together, exactly two years to the date previous to his death, on the beginning of a two week European vacation. He got up early, and went to the sea for his morning coffee. He took pictures of pigeon’s nests that he found, and the boats. This weekend I’ll keep an eye out for nests. And I will have a coffee on the coast along with him.My Uncle Mike had suffered quite a lot over the years, so I feel assured knowing that he really is much better off now. He used to fight for his life, but when my Dad died my uncle sort of threw in the towel as well. Everyone noticed a change in his health and character, and there was no bringing him back. He has slowly been getting worse and spent the last year in a hospital. So I really mean it that he is now resting in peace.
My Grandma Bernie visited Mike just 20 minutes before he died. He was in a coma. Mike’s wife, my aunt Tomomi, held his hand when he came to very briefly. She asked him if he saw Bob, my Dad. And he reacted and tried to say something. Who knows what he saw, or what he was trying to say, but I know that my sister and I like to picture them back together now. Wherever they are, I imagine them playing football and my Uncle Mike is back to running on two legs that work again.
There are no other living males in my immediate family on my Dad’s side. My sister now has a new last name. I feel like Tamenund, in The Last of the Mohicans. I’m the last Watson. For this reason, I hope to always keep my last name and somehow pass it down to my kids one day. We’ll see…
To both my Dad and Uncle Mike – I love you both. I promise to celebrate you, and not mourn. After all, during Memorial Week white pants is the new black veil.