When you get married, you are inducted into your spouse’s family, like it or not. Some people dread the family they marry into. Some of the lucky ones love their spouses’ families and are happy to be a part of them. I am one of the lucky ones. I married into a wonderful family. They have filled some holes in my life made by distances in my own extended family. They gave me acceptance, kindness, love, and so much more.
I never met my husband’s parents, but I met his Aunt Fay and Uncle Rich, two people my husband loved like they were his own parents. They became my aunt and uncle and much more. When Lou and I started dating, I talked to Aunt Fay and Uncle Rich on the phone. They lived in Georgia, so I didn’t meet them until the day of our rehearsal. Uncle Rich was a grooms man in our wedding. They arrived at the church for our rehearsal and Lou introduced me. They took me into their arms and welcomed me into the family.
The first time we flew to Georgia to spend a week with Aunt Fay and Uncle Rich I was both excited and nervous. I feared that after spending a week with me they might not like me. I feared they would think Lou made a mistake by marrying a person with mental illness, yet I was excited to get to know them. They opened their arms to me as soon as we got off the plane. They hugged me and welcomed me like I was a long distance family member they hadn’t seen in a while.
I had a tremor that seemed to be getting worse and problems remembering the simplest things. Uncle Rich noticed my tremor right away. He was a psychologist and worked with many who suffered with mental illness. He began to ask me questions as if were one of his patients. He asked about my illness, my medications, dosages, and diagnosis. I answered his questions and then showed him the medications I was on.
He looked at me. “You’re having side effects from being on your medications for such a long time. You need to talk to your psychiatrist and get your medication adjusted or changed.”
Uncle Rich was right. I told my psychiatrist and got on new medication. The tremors stopped and I regained my memory. Uncle Rich did more than just diagnosis my tremors he took interest in me as a person. He wanted to know about my family, my job, my writing, and much more. He cared about me and accepted me for who I am. When we returned home, he called me and told us him and Aunt Fay were reimbursing us for our plane tickets.
Even though we lived miles apart from Uncle Rich and Aunt Fay, we kept in contact with them by phone and visited them when we could. Uncle Rich always answered the phone. He asked how Lou and I were doing and what was happening in our lives. If we told him our washer died and we were saving for another one, he’d ask, “How much does one cost?” A few days later we would get a check in the mail for the amount. When we offered to pay him back, he would tell us it was a gift. When we visited Uncle Rich and Aunt Fay, they spoiled us. We saved money for the trip, but they would only let us pay for souvenirs.
Uncle Rich was a kind, intelligent, strong, and loving man. I adored him. He showed more interest in me and my life than my own uncles. He became not just my husband’s uncle, but also my uncle. He helped us out when he could in many different ways. He gave without asking for anything in return. He filled holes in my soul which my own uncles couldn’t fill. He accepted me despite my illness and follies. He loved me like I had always been his niece.
When I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, Uncle Rich sent me a relaxation tape he made for his clients. At night when I couldn’t calm my worries, I listened to Uncle Rich’s voice guide me into relaxation. As I gained control over my worries I needed the tape less and less. Now I pull it out to just hear his voice.
Uncle Rich passed away September 8, leaving Lou and I deeply saddened. I have fallen into a mild depression from my grief. We have lost a wonderful man and our lives will never be the same without him. He will always remain in our hearts and souls. He made an everlasting impression on our lives. He helped us in so many ways we could have never thanked him enough.
Uncle Rich was a blessing from God, and now he is in heaven looking down over us. He made a big impact in my life and helped me with my mental illness. Thank you, God, for allowing me to have him in my life for a short ten years.
My depression will pass, but Uncle Rich’s mark on my life will never fade. Writing this, as well as practicing other coping techniques, will help me through my grief. In time I will once again stand in the light.