I didn’t know everything there is to know about DD Sloane. But I knew he loved my husband and my husband loved him. Growing up, DD and his wife Bell spent a lot of time looking after Tim, feeding him treats and spoiling him. Today our family in Northern Ireland is gathering to lay Uncle DD to rest. I know that Uncle DD much preferred tea over coffee. He drove a bus for most of his life and even though he probably logged hundreds of thousands of miles over the years, he never traveled far from his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland. That’s just how he liked it. Fifty-seven years ago he and his new bride honeymooned in a little village a couple hours from home. They bought two-story house not far from the city center and spent nearly six decades living in it. Bell and DD never had children, but they treated my husband and his two sisters like their own. Uncle DD was trim and healthy until a stroke nearly killed him. Doctors didn’t think he’d live much longer. That was 21 years ago.
By the time I met Uncle DD he was a rosy-cheeked old man with slumped shoulders and sparkling blue eyes. He examined me closely and pointed out a flaw. “The hem on your pants is uneven,” he said in his slightly muddled Irish accent. I looked down and sure enough they were. The right leg of my jeans was a little bit rolled up. I leaned down and fixed it and Uncle DD seemed pleased that he had corrected this imperfection.
Last spring I surprised my husband with a trip home for his birthday. We shared a special meal at a fancy hotel with Uncle DD, Bell, Tim’s sisters and their husbands. DD sat across from me and we ordered the exact same thing– lamb, potatoes, vegetables and cheesecake for dessert. Late that Sunday afternoon we dropped Bell and DD back at their home and squeezed them goodbye. I got in the backseat of my brother-in-law’s SUV and sobbed. I couldn’t explain why at that moment but looking back on it I suppose I knew. I knew I would never hear him say my husband’s name in that beautiful brogue again. I knew we’d never enjoy another cup of tea together. I knew I would never see Uncle DD again on this side of heaven. And even though I didn’t know everything there was to know about Uncle DD, I still loved him and will miss him dearly.