First Time

June 14, 2009 at 1:15 am (Family, Nate)

I received a call from Jeff about 40 minutes ago to let Nate and I know that his uncle had passed away. I had my phone on vibrate and didn’t hear it, but did see where he had left a message. I wouldn’t have answered it anyway. At about the same time I heard Nate’s phone ring and it was his sister. So about the same time I was listening to the phone mail, Nate came in the room to tell me that Jeff’s mom had called Danlel and told her that Vic had passed away.

Jeff said in the voicemail that there would be a private family viewing later in the week and we were welcome to come but understood if we did not.

I asked Nate if he had heard the voicemail (I had put it on speakerphone) and if he wanted to attend. He asked if there was going to be a public viewing and I said I didn’t know as Vic was originally from Boston, had moved to Maryland, and now lived here. I wasn’t certain if his first wife had died or if they had divorced, or even where he wished to be buried.

Nate said that if it was just going to be family then no, he did not want to go. I paraphrased what he said, “If its just family then you don’t want to go?” He said, “No, because my dad will be there and I don’t want to see him. If its public then, yeah, of course I want to go.”

That’s the first time that Nate has said that he didn’t want to see his dad. And not only did he say it, he said it with such finality and maturity in his voice, it was… I really can’t even find the words.

Nate and I were both misty-eyed talking about Uncle Vic (he was in his early 90’s, had Alzheimers, and had had a stroke around the first part of April) but Nate patted me on the back and said, “Anyway, Uncle Vic’s in a better place, right?”  I assured him he was and he walked out of the room.

I thought of what I could say to Nate about saying good-bye and being there for the family, but… I didn’t. As he sits on the threshold of 13, having passed the seventh grade (Gott sei dank!), and in the interest of breaking old habits of my own, I said nothing. And I won’t.

Unfortunately, Nate is an old hand at death. I heard him counseling his sister after a young lady she went to high school with, and had known since grade school, died. He said, “At first, you’re going to be in shock and kinda numb, then its going to hit you, and you’re going to cry a lot.” That reminds me of what my counselor said about children who are abused. She said that you hear a lot of horror stories but a lot of abused children grow into very compassionate and caring adults.

My son is very compassionate and I’m sure he feels his own sorrow about Vic’s passing and his family’s sadness. However, he also made it pretty clear, he wasn’t offering himself up as any kind of sacrifice. At this time, Nate and his sister have made the decision to not just sever ties with their father, but with an entire branch of their family, including a younger cousin that both were close to.

It is sad in so many ways.

On a brighter note, having passed seventh grade by the skin of his teeth, and perhaps not happy with the nail-biting which has taken place since the last day of school, my son says he’s going to do much better next year and was very receptive to the idea of us studying WV History over the summer to give him a leg up on his class and the Golden Horseshoe Test. He was less enthusiastic about reading “Rocket Boys” because he said he had already seen the movie.

I said, “But the book is better and you’re going to have to read it for WV Studies next year anyway.”  He sighed and then declined, stating he would rather not ruin any surprises. I did look up some WV history books online and we’ll hit BooksbytheMillion or a local bookstore to find one. I’ll take what I can get.


  1. Jammie J. said,

    Yikes. I’m sorry about Uncle Vic. Sorry also that Nate’s had to be the bigger man, so to speak, and grow up so fast because of his dad. 😦

    Sounds like you both are looking forward to the summer. Sounds like you need a good summer.

    • blackpunkin said,

      Nate’s counselor said that he may well have to grow up faster and it appears that he is. We are going to have a good summer. We got a paint kit and are going to do it together and we’re planning a trip back to the emerald mine in NC and just some short (educational) fun trips around WV.

  2. kenju said,

    Nate is becoming mature, at least in his decisions. He knows what’s best for him, where his sperm donor is concerned. I’d be proud.

    • blackpunkin said,

      I am proud, very proud, but also sad that he’s growing up so fast in such a short period of time. For once, his maturity is growing faster than his legs.

  3. tricia said,

    Nate is going to grow up to be an amazing individual, and every bit of that will be because of you.

    • blackpunkin said,

      You know, I can give him the tools, but he has to make the decision to use them. That’s a conscious decision on his part. To me, he already is an amazing individual. 🙂

  4. Vince said,

    Sorry to hear about Vic. It’s always hard losing someone no matter the age. However, Nate is taking it very maturely. Worst case, if Vic’s going to be buried in WV, Nate can give his respects and say goodbye after the funeral on his own.

    Congrats to him on getting past 7th grade!

  5. Michael said,

    Wow, Nate’s going into 8th grade… they grow up fast. Sorry about his great uncle… Are Mothman stories required WV reading?

    • blackpunkin said,

      Oh, I should make a motion to make The Mothman Prophecies required reading. NOT!

  6. Beth said,

    You done real good with Nate. I’m proud of him and he’s not even my son! How does he feel about Father’s Day, though?

    And I am sorry about Uncle Vic. Alzheimer’s over the age of 90 must’ve been really hard for his family. Hope he’s resting peacefully now.

    • blackpunkin said,

      Well, Beth, I asked him when we went to pick up the condolence card for his great-aunt if he wanted to get his dad a Father’s Day card. He shrugged and said, “I don’t care.” I told him that wasn’t an answer, that either he did or he did not want to get him one. He said, “After what he’s put me through… he can do without.”

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