My younger uncle and my dad have never really gotten along. It stems from seemingly ridiculous childhood problems and their respective high levels of stubbornness. In my family, everyone loves to blame each other, and no one ever wants to admit fault — at least, out loud to others.
I guess it had to take a family history of heart disease to get these two to start reaching out to one another. They both saw their older brother pass away from a heart attack 14 years ago at just 65 years of age, and then my uncle had his angiogram two months ago that revealed his blocked artery, which prompted my dad to call him. And ultimately, it was my uncle who suggested to my dad that he get the stress test and angiogram done, which led to my dad’s bypass surgery this past week.
My uncle visited for the second time tonight, and he spent two hours in my dad’s room with us and my aunt, talking about childhood memories, recent events, and my grandpa’s position in the U.S. Navy during World War II. For the first time, I found out that my grandpa went to Okinawa to fight during the war, and he got within 10 inches of some sharp object that almost killed him. He apparently kept it and brought it back to the U.S. with him after the war — as a reminder of how close he came to death and how precious life is.
My dad and uncle were laughing so hard at a few points that my dad had to ask everyone to calm down because he was afraid his laughter would open up his chest incision. It was amazing to see them both laughing so freely together. It looked and felt natural — I couldn’t believe it.
Is this what it takes for two hostile brothers to reconcile? It’s never too late. This surgery will save my dad’s life — and perhaps even my dad’s relationship with his younger brother. Here’s to hoping we’re all moving in a positive direction for both.