It was just over a week before I was born when my Dad’s brother died in a car accident. Because I never knew Uncle T, I could only surmise what he was like. I was too young to know what questions to ask to know his essential personality. (Which reminds me – I really must make a list of questions to ask my family before I travel to the US!) I know he was a big man, and in those days his size was unusual. If he had a similar car accident these days he probably would have survived.
Uncle T was buried in a village in the Midwest of the United States close to where the family lived not long before I was born. I’m sure my arrival – along with the fact I had 10 fingers and 10 toes – mitigated their pain. Someone died, someone else lived.
During that time The Beatles had their Number One hit “Let it be”. Although I think it was written by Paul McCartney to help him say goodbye to The Beatles, my father found the song helped him in his grief. I gave him a cassette tape with Beatles tunes on for Father’s Day one year. Dad told me about his brother and how he died before I was born. It’s strange how essential details of our existence arrive into our lives as if by accident: had I given him something else I’d never know…
Consequently, I’m finding that “Let it be” is helping me. Dad is now resting beside his brother in the cemetery just outside the village. A pathetic few words indicate that he existed. A few sad numbers clock the days he spent living in this world. A happy likeness adorns his stone – a photograph taken when he was 18. He was full of promise then. He didn’t have Parkinsons then.
“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be.”
When I was younger I used to think that Uncle T was a kind of guardian angel to me: I was told that he was keen on meeting me but never managed it. Whether Uncle T was looking out for me or not, the fact that someone in the family died so close to my birth has always reminded me that we have to focus on the positives in our existence. Someone dies, someone else is born. There is a balance of pain and joy. We would never fully appreciate happiness without suffering.
I’m the kind of person who, while I find suffering as difficult as everyone else, likes the cyclical nature of existence. I always know what to expect – there will always be pain and joy throughout our lives. You can’t have one without the other.
After all those years, losing his brother was such a traumatic experience that Dad got emotional when he heard “Let it be” that Father’s Day. I think I’ll always cry when I listen to “Let it be” too.
“There will be an answer, let it be”