Uncle Boojy passed away this afternoon. His given name was Charles Prejean, he and my Aunt Pat were the relatives that lived in Gramercy, LA not too far from where I was in New Orleans. He was diagnosed with cancer in late August I believe, but by the time they found it it had already spread everywhere. I made it a point to get up there as often as I could since then. It was not as often as I wanted, as I was unemployed and gas funds were short. but generally I managed to get up there twice or three times a month.
I never wrote about it here, because it was important to me not to talk to him or about him as though he was already dead. He was always one of my favorite relatives, a unique and irreplaceable character. He was funny, he was smart, he was adventurous, he was creative, and there wasnt a mean bone in the man's body. Most unusually these sorts of things were said about the man when he was still in perfect health. And so it was important to me to put on my game face, act like everything was normal, and preserve both his dignity and the personality traits I found so appealing.
The EMT class actually helped a lot in that department. It taught me about death and dying, treating the terminally ill with dignity, and how to confront such issues. More importantly it taught me enough about signs, symptoms, and basic medicine to be able to give pointers and suggestions to improve his comfort level as the chemotherapy treatments and the cancer took their toll on his body.
It did not, however, teach me how to keep my game face on and hide my horror as a big, healthy 6 foot plus man wasted away to frail wisps with limbs in front of me. That nobody can teach. I sucked it up and did it because I was there for his good cheer, not mine. More importantly than that though, was the fact that he had confidence in my judgement. Part of it was the knowledge I had before, part of it was the newfound authority in my voice from the things I picked up in the EMT course. But for whatever reason he thought I was some sort of genius or prodigy. I knew that any sign of weakness on my part would make him feel worse than if somebody else did it.
I brought him movies I had burned that I thought he might enjoy. As he couldnt get around so much movies were really the only entertainment available to him. And we would chit-chat about this and that. His favorite subjects were restaurants he has loved and music stores he has loved. wherever he travelled, wherever he lived, he always hunted down the best kept secret diners and dive restaurants and music stores. Oh he had other hobbies and interests, but those were his favorites. And we had fun, just like before when he wasnt sick.
We all knew what the outcome was likely to be, and by the time I left we knew this day was coming soon. But it doesnt really make it any easier. But I was glad I got to spend the time with him before he went. I wish it could have been more, but I was grateful for what I got. And I was glad he got to see me on my way to finishing up my schooling and moving forward with my life, the way he wanted me to. But I didnt want him to go either. Its easy to forget when someone has been around all your life that nobody lives forever, and that to everyone there is a beginning and an end. I'll miss him, and so will everyone who knew him.