Any normal person would assume that someone with the nickname like "The Freak" isn't the type of person you want to be friends with. In my case, "The Freak" is actually my uncle, and he was nothing like what his nickname makes him out to be. My uncle got his nickname playing softball, he played for 43 years! He started playing when he was six years old along with his older brother, my dad. All of his life he continued to play softball and he was very, very good at what he did.
Softball sort of runs in my family. My uncle played, my dad played and my older cousin played as well. So, last year I decided that I would play softball for my school. Softball season and practice started on March 1st, 2013; I dreaded that day, a day that is branded in my memory forever, and a day that changed my life.
Around thanksgiving of 2012, my uncle came to live with us. I was very excited because I always loved having him around. My uncle hadn't been feeling well and he thought he had a stomach bug of some sort, so he went to the doctor and concluded that he should begin to feel better soon. As the days passed, he wasn't feeling any better. He had terrible pain in his stomach and lower back and he wasn't eating much because he couldn't hold anything down. He went to the doctor again. This time, they ran a few tests, took some blood, gave him some medicine and sent him home to rest. Nothing seemed to help. It felt like he was getting more and more sick each and every day. My uncle was a very stubborn man and he said he didn't want to go to the hospital so we didn't make him, at first.
It had been about three weeks since my uncle had first gotten sick. Things hadn't been getting any better. On a good day, he would come outside and have a catch with me and teach me how to pitch so that I was ready for softball season. But on bad days, which started coming more and more frequently, things would get chaotic. He would start to talk nonsense. He kept saying things that made no sense and with his personality, if you tried to correct him and tell him he was just confused, he got angry. He didn't like being told he was wrong. The weirdest thing was that when my uncle did get into this confused state of mind, he would speak of things that happened in the past. He would say things that made sense, just not in the context he was speaking. So everyone in my house began to get very concerned. We called an ambulance and hoped that we would be able to convince him to go to the hospital. He eventually agreed to go to the hospital and while there, the discovered that his calcium levels were low, which caused him to be in this state of confusion. They brought his levels back down and sent him home.
The next few months were hard. It felt like the hospital became a second home. The confusion was taking over and it seemed as if my uncle was slowly fading away. Finally, the doctors found the root of all the problems. My uncle had a tumor that was taking over his entire left kidney. Whether they removed the kidney or not, the cancer was bound to spread to other parts of his body. They decided to put him through treatments and decided that shrinking the tumor was the best approach they could take. So for a while, my uncle stayed in the hospital. We went to visit him almost every day after school. The confusion stopped because the doctors made sure to keep his calcium levels neutral. And although he was a little weak, it seemed like he might actually make it through. I remember him telling me all the time that he was going to be okay. He kept saying how he was going to make it through this, and we all believed it too. We knew he was a fighter and he wasn't going to give up. He managed to keep all of our worries away by keeping a positive attitude no matter what and I will admire that for the rest of my life.
One day, my mom, my dad and I had been at the hospital pretty much all day with my uncle. We went in to visit him around 11 A.M. and didn't leave until around dinner time. My mom hadn't been feeling well that day. She has a seizure condition and she was off of her medicine at the time. On the way home from visiting my uncle, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things we needed for dinner. My dad and I waited in the truck while my mom went in the store. About 20 minutes later, we were wondering why my mom was taking so long when all of a sudden an ambulance pulled in the parking lot behind us and headed into the store. My dad knew from instinct that it was for my mom. He ran out of the truck and into the store. I waited in the truck because I don't do well in emergency situations and I didn't want to believe that my mom was in trouble. It felt as if I was waiting there forever. I sat in the truck alone, shivering from the cold and crying because I was so scared. Finally after what felt like hours, my dad rushed into the truck crying. I knew what was wrong and I couldn't believe it. My mom had a seizure in the grocery store. I pulled myself together and stopped crying so that I could calm my dad down and we followed the ambulance, back to the hospital, for the second time that day. My dad said that when he went in the store, my mom didn't know who he was. He said she fell pretty hard and there was blood on the ground where she was laying. As soon as we got to the hospital I told my dad to go with my mom into the emergency room and I went up to my uncles room because I didn't want to see my mom like that and I knew that my uncle would comfort me. I walked down the halls and into the elevator that was all too familiar. When I got to my uncles room I could barely manage to get out the word to explain to him what had happened before I burst into tears. My uncle held me and calmed me down as I cried onto his shoulder. He told me that everything was going to be okay and that I should go down to see my mom, so I did. My mom was feeling better but she still had to stay in the hospital so they could run tests on her to make sure her seizure wasn't caused by something more serious. My dad and I finally left the hospital around 9 P.M. and my mom didn't get home until around 1. This was most definitely one of the scariest days of my life. I felt as if bad things would never stop happening.
February 28th, 2013, a few weeks after that unbelievably crazy night, I went to visit my uncle in the hospital. It was hard to see him in such terrible condition. He was put on an oxygen tube and he repeatedly ripped it off. He couldn't talk much. He would just moan and point. He lost control of his bladder. He wasn't eating hardly anything. He was asleep for most of the time that I was in there that night to visit him, but I made sure to hug him and tell him that I loved him before I left that night. I also told him how excited I was to start softball the next day.
March 1st, 2013. I went to school like every other normal day. After school, I stayed for softball. I wore my uncle’s jersey to practice. It was way too big for me, but it felt like I had a piece of him there with me. After practice I was going to go visit my uncle, but I was very tired so I decided I would go the next morning. Oh how I regret that decision. My dad came into my room at midnight and woke me up to tell me the unbearable news. My uncle had passed away at 11:30 at night, March 1st, 2013. I couldn't believe it.
My uncle was the strongest man I've ever known. At the time he died, he had cancer in his kidneys, lungs, liver, bones and brain. He kept a positive attitude through his entire sickness. He made sure that we were all okay, even when he wasn't. Of course I was upset that my uncle didn't get to come to my first softball game, but I know he was watching. I play his position, 3rd base. When I play, I can almost hear him coaching me. I know that he's proud of me and it makes me feel amazing to know that. At his funeral, his softball friends had a wreath made out of softballs made with his picture in the middle to put in front of the casket and when the funeral was over, they gave it to me. I'm honored to have had such an amazing uncle, and I can't wait to make him proud when softball season starts this year, on March 1st.