my uncle Leo

My mother’s cancer has been progressing and hospice has been called in to help manage her pain.  I’m pretty sure Mom’s been in alot of pain the last few weeks, but most of the time, we never know it.  Other than the cancer, and the hospice and the pain… somehow, Mom’s pretty much her normal self.  Always smiling, always happy and positive.  A month or two back, Mom asked me to film this season of her life and so I have been.  Every few days, I show up at her house with my camera and follow her around or we sit and talk awhile, and I capture it on film.  Forever.  Someday, when our minds have a hard time recalling certain things about someone we love, the camera will remember.  I love that.
My uncle Leo came to visit my mother just before Easter.  There were 12 kids in mom’s family, and he’s her oldest brother.  With all the fear and hurting that cancer can bring, when Uncle Leo comes to visit, he only brings love and joy with him…that and a set of golf clubs.  He is filled with life and you can’t help but smile back when you see his big Irish grin or listen to the silly jokes he tells.  He’s nearly 80 years old now, but in some ways he reminds me of a little boy, mischievous and filled with wonder.  That never goes away I guess, no matter how old we are.  Although I knew he came this time specifically to spend precious time with his little sister, selfishly, I love when Uncle Leo comes to visit too.  My brothers, sisters and I get to sit near them and hear stories about our grandparents, Maddie and Leo Carnahan Sr, back in the old days in Michigan when they were all young.  Stories about the great snows they had growing up and how they would go swimming in the great lakes and about the fire that burned their house to the ground and burned one horrifying night into the minds forever.  Uncle Leo and mom never smile when they talk about the fire.  It happened in the 1950’s but they seem to remember it like it was yesterday.  Like cancer, it brings pain with it, but a scarier pain I think…the kind that is in your heart but the doctors can’t see.  My sister Marcy found some newspaper clippings one time from back then… and there on the front page was my mother as a little girl, and Uncle Leo at 18 and their brothers and sisters just after the big fire.  My mother is still afraid of fire to this day.  When we grill out with her at her house on Sundays, we have to put the barbecue grill far away from her patio… she doesn’t want to take any chances.  I can’t blame her, after hearing what they lived through in the fire and what their little brothers Patrick and Timmy didn’t.

I was thrilled to see Uncle Leo’s little white pickup truck in mom’s driveway when I came over to visit one day.  I’m not a golfer, but I am a lover of my Uncle Leo.  And since he had his clubs, I I told him I would go play nine holes with him.   So, there we were on a Wednesday afternoon… me (no they didn’t let me where my overalls on the course), Uncle Leo and my nephew Mikel – riding in golf carts, shooting triple bogeys, and making a memory that will last a lifetime.  Unfortunately, my memory isn’t what it used to be, so once again, I brought my camera along… so it could remember this day.  Forever.