Wishing Uncle Ricky a happy birthday

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

This month we celebrate those who are battling breast cancer.
However, for me and my family, this month reminds us of my late Uncle Ricky, whom we lost to another type of cancer.
On Oct. 10, he would have celebrated his 45th birthday, but he never saw his 25th.
In the beginning of 1994, I was 11-years-old. Uncle Ricky was 23. He had three beautiful children, all younger than 6.
While I don’t remember much, I know that he was a sweet man who loved his children and the rest of his family. A favorite memory of mine, which I won’t forget, was when my dad sold him our old station wagon. We stood outside my Maw Maw’s house on Chartres Street in Bay St. Louis and he told me he was finally going to take his family on a vacation.
In early 1994, what began as a pain in his shoulder was soon diagnosed as stage four colon cancer.
It was devastating news and I, being unaware of such diseases at the time, struggled to understand what was happening to one of my favorite uncles.
He underwent chemotherapy and within a few months, his physical appearance changed drastically.
He took his family to our church every Sunday and became fast friends with our beloved pastor.
Our last Thanksgiving spent with him was memorable.
My aunt and uncle from Colorado, operated a limousine service. During their visit, they used one of their fleet to escort him back to the hospital in style.
On Dec. 3, after enjoying his favorite meal the night before, a roast beef po-boy, Uncle Ricky passed away, almost six months to the day that he was diagnosed.
That morning was the first time I ever saw my dad cry as he got ready and headed to the funeral home to make arrangements.
It was my first experience with the death of a close loved one. At the time, I couldn’t understand that he was in a better place with no more suffering; I wanted him to be here with us.
I truly believe that the day he died, the heart of our family went with him. I have a large family, as my dad is the oldest of 14 children.
The laughter filled family gatherings of years past slowly faded away and many have gone their separate ways from each other for one reason or another.
My grandparents were never the same. They were still very loving and wonderful, but there was a sadness that lurked just beneath the surface.
The disease known as cancer does not discriminate and, in my opinion, is an awful disease for those affected.
As we celebrate breast cancer awareness month, let’s not forget the millions suffering from all forms of the disease.
My point is, life is short and at any moment we can be taken from this world without notice.
Cherish the moments with your family and put their needs above all else.

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