|My grandparent John and Katherine Kowalski and their sons. Uncle Mike is leaning against my grandmother. He was named for his paternal grandfather.|
|Dressing up my uncle!!|
|Good looking snowman!! This was c. 1975/6. Uncle Mike never fussed about his clothes!|
Sadly Uncle Mike passed away 6 months after Dave and I got married, and just 2 weeks before his 78th birthday. He hadn't been feeling well for at least a year, hadn't been able to eat, and was passing blood. It turned out he had a huge hole in his stomach and on top of that he had lung cancer. He was a heavy smoker and although we all had tried to get him to cut down, if not stop, he didn't. Working in coal mines for years would have already weakened his lungs and smoking didn't help. The ulcer--I think it was partly from drinking coca cola all the time, and partly living with Nick, who caused him a lot of worry over the years and in the last years was always threatening to sell the whole farm. Uncle Mike just wanted to live out his life on the farm that he loved. Uncle Mike ended up in Sturgeon Hospital in St. Albert--he never went to doctors and didn't want to be in the hospital. On Sunday, Dave and I came up from Olds, picked up my mother and went out to see him. He said he wanted to see everyone--I think he knew the end was near. He had clasped my hand and held it so tight. I couldn't help but feel that he was holding on to me for dear life--literally. And I gave him all the strength I could, to hold on until everyone was there. I sat on the bed, and even though I was in an uncomfortable position, I didn't care and wasn't going to move. Mother phoned my dad to come and Dave went out to the farm to get Nick. Nick didn't want to come and Dave had to be quite stern with him, telling him that his brother was asking for him, so he'd better get his coat. Everyone arrived, and Uncle Mike fell asleep and after about 2 hours, let go of my hand. By supper time, we all decided to leave and let him sleep. Dave and I drove home to Olds. I slept very poorly that night and had a pain in my abdomen. The next morning Mother phoned to tell me that Uncle Mike had passed away that morning around 9 AM.
I lost not only an uncle, in fact the only real uncle I ever had (Nick is a strange one and never talked to me directly until I was in my 30's, and as Mother didn't like my dad's relatives, I never met my other uncles or my aunt), but I also lost a friend. He was the one in person in my family who had loved me unconditionally, even when I made choices that he didn't think were a good idea, he never reproached me or railed at me. If you know my family at all, you know that unconditional love was rare. I miss him more than anyone else who has passed away, I think even more than my mother, in some ways. For these 22 years, I have cried more for him and wished he was still here. But I have also always felt his presence very strongly--he is with me, looking out for me as he always did. Happy 100th Birthday Uncle Mike!! One day your partner will see you again. ♥♥