The other day I was revising the first chapters of my book and came up with a scene where the main character, Teresa, has a long talk with her Uncle Jorge, who is so much like you that he can only be one of my favourites.
I’ll never forget those talks. In addition to your being great company, with a sense of humour I enjoyed so much, you always had wise words of advice to one as young as I was, full of dreams and also some anxieties; although older – my friend Luisa’s father – you had such a young spirit; you truly understood us young people. In addition, to me you and Auntie Sara had the perfect marriage – after so many years it was clear you were still very much in love with each other, and to see you sitting on the couch and holding hands like two sweethearts made me believe such a love could exist, and I wanted to be among the privileged few to experience it. A love for life, the one I dreamed of.
I remember us talking one fine August evening. We sat in your garden under the trees, the sky full of stars, and I asked you what the recipe for such a happy marriage was. You laughed and said you had no idea, that you and Auntie would be millionaires if only you had. But you did mention a few principles; first, to choose someone you shared the same vision of life, the same ideals; and another one, more commonly mentioned, that of never going to be angry with each other. And when I told you I feared I would end up with a divorce such as my parents had, you asked me why I should think of such a thing. You said you believed I would one day find my soulmate and live a happy marriage. After all, you said, my life did not have to follow the same pattern as my parents’. I was a long, wonderful talk like all I had with you.
As I walked back to the hotel, I asked myself: would I have a happy marriage such as you and Auntie Sara, would I find a loving companion for life, or would I choose poorly, like my parents? I wondered.
As it happened, I did not find that life companion. You never knew it, dear Uncle, because you left us too early, a few years before I had to admit my marriage was a failure, although I might still have told you that in person, because I had known that sad, terrible truth for years.
As much as I remember those thoughts I had on that summer night so many years ago, and as much as I have to admit my choice did not bring me what I was looking for, still it brought me good things, and many important lessons. That choice gave me, not the romantic love of my youthful dreams, but the two great loves of my life – my sons. A choice I wouldn’t have made had it not been for my husband’s insistence. He very much wanted to become a father, while motherhood was not really on my checklist. That marriage also taught me how to be independent, to face life by myself, to make my own decisions, and most of all how to learn how to be alone – and maybe from those moments by myself emerged this discovery that I wanted to write, and had stories to tell. Most probably, had I lived a happy marriage, without moments of loneliness, I would not have found this call. Had I not suffered, had I not lived through conflicting emotions, I would certainly have much less to write about. Or my writing would not be as sincere, and truthful, as deep and emotional as I’m told it is.
In the end, dear Uncle, I did not choose poorly. I chose well, for each of us chooses according to the lessons we have to learn in life. You and Auntie were blessed in your marriage, so probably you had other lessons to learn, in other aspects of life. Or not; maybe you had already reached a state of evolution where there were lessons to teach instead, and you were here on Earth to share your love and wisdom with others, and that you have done, dear Uncle, so well; and dear Auntie is still doing it, with her lovely smile and as active in her eighties as any woman many years younger. I know you are so proud of her, wherever you are, and so happy that she has gone on with her life in spite of the terrible loss of her lifetime companion.
My dear, dear Uncle, I miss you so much, have missed you all these years – almost twenty – since you’ve gone. My book, and the scenes where you appear, are a modest tribute to you and the much you have meant, and still mean, to me; and a happy moment was when two of your grandchildren, who are part of the book’s team, read those scenes and thanked me, saying this was an opportunity to get to know better a grandfather whom they had lost too early in their lives. If only for this, writing the book would have been worthwhile, because you deserve the best tribute there may be: showing the world the unique, special, magical human being you were.
Dear Uncle, thank you so much for being such an important part of my life; I hope that, wherever you are, you enjoy reading my book and reliving all those wonderful moments we had together. I hope my readers will also love it, and I’m sure learning about Uncle Jorge and his lessons, but most of all of his joy in life, will much contribute to that success.
One day, in another dimension, we’ll be together again. I know it. Until then, you’ll always be here in my heart, and in all the memories we bring back to life when we talk about you.
All my love