Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pevaj Ujko, Pevaj Rode
(warning: Sentimental post)

The above title is a Serbian wedding song.
Whenever I hear it, I think of my Ujko (Uncle, in the endearing vernacular).
I think about how important to me it was for my Uja to be at my wedding.
Since not only was I marrying out of my culture, I was marrying out of my race, yes it was very important to me.
Last year, one of the things I said I wanted to do was to tell my Uja how I felt about him before something happened to one of us.
However, I am afraid that I would never be able to do this without dissolving into a puddle of tears in his presence.
I know that my cousin occasionally shows him this blog, so perhaps he’ll read this privately. I know that in our family, emotions run so deep that discussion of feelings is a difficult thing. When I was younger, I used to criticize my elders for their lack of dealing with emotions…but now that I’m older, and actually have accumulated experiences and understand things a bit better; I understand.
In the end, I am just like them it seems.
Here goes:

Dear Uja,

Sometimes when I’m driving in my car alone, I think about how we’re all getting older, and how if anything ever happened to you I don’t know how I would manage and I cry.
I drive and cry.
Even as I write this, the mere thought brings tears streaming down my face.
In my younger days when you were an angry young man full of opinion, advice, demands and criticisms, I thought that you were behind the times.
Turns out you were right about almost everything.
When I didn’t want to hear, and I stopped coming to see you for a while so I wouldn’t have to, I always thought about you.
When Mama got sick, you held me up.
In the hospital when I was crying and they were pushing me around trying to get me to take her home while she laid on a gurney for two days in the emergency…you lost your temper and shouted at them to take care of her when I was too weak with fear and grief to do it.
And they listened.
And who wouldn’t?
When you get mad, there isn’t enough air in the room.
When we stood in the hospital parking lot and I told you that I didn’t know what I would have done without you, you told me that I wasn’t alone.
That I was your first child, and not to worry. That in this strangers land we only had each other and that as long as you were alive mama and I wouldn’t be alone.
You took the day shift, bribing the nurses with chocolates, fruit and flowers, and I took the night shift staying with mama into the late evening.
I am forever grateful.
Grateful for all the things that you have done for us.
For me.
Grateful for your acceptance.
When you asked me to work in the store on Saturdays, I jumped at the opportunity because you’ve never asked me for anything.
That year of Saturdays let me get to know you as a man, me as an adult.
Through our talks on those quiet afternoons we got closer than I ever thought we could be because you let me.
You let me cook for you.
You let me give back just a little tiny bit, not even close to what you deserve…but what can I give someone like you?
There isn’t enough for all you’ve done for me all of my life.
I was not your responsibility.
But you did.
And for that, I’m forever grateful.

Volim te moj Ujko, I love you,
Tvoja Radmila