My uncle Pete, 53, lost his father early last month. Normally jovial and outgoing, Pete’s demeanor has steadily shifted since then. There are still flashes of “the same old Pete,” but he has seemed withdrawn and a bit under the weather. We all figured it was something of a depression. My aunt Sherry (my mom’s sister), however, insisted that there was something more going on. Pete—who has never had health issues and rarely visited the doctor—passed a heart stress test with flying colors. A couple of days later, Sherry thought she had noticed a bit of a droop to the right side of his mouth.
On Tuesday morning, Pete was unable to grip his coffee cup, so Sherry took him to the hospital. Initially, doctors figured he may have been experiencing a series of mini strokes. Testing and scans revealed a brain tumor as well as one in his lung; my aunt was told this was “about as bad as it could be.”
Tuesday afternoon, Pete was transferred to a larger hospital with more neurosurgeons and specialists. Additional scans were performed, revealing many more tumors. The count now stands at nine in his brain and the other in his lung. The lung tumor will be biopsied today; this should better reveal the state of things and give direction for a treatment plan. It was determined that no biopsies could be performed on the brain tumors, as their placement would almost certainly result in paralysis.
Here’s the thing: Pete is one of my very favorite people in the world. Actually, he’s a LOT of people’s favorite person in the world. He’s one of ten kids, raised to be both confident and humble. He’s kind, loving, and caring beyond measure; he’d do anything to help anybody. I can’t count the number of times he has helped me and my family with everything from physical labor like moving and repairs to emotional support like offering counsel/advice. He’s level-headed and genuine and talented and wise. Having owned a custom cabinet workshop for twenty-some years, he built both gorgeous pieces from wood and strong relationships with people.
Pete has spent decades studying the Bible and leading others in the same. His love for the Lord is inspiring, and he shares it without being pushy.
Being around him (and Sherry) brings laughter to the point of tears, smiling to the point of cheek pain. He’s beyond hilarious; he’ll say and do crazy funny things that you just don’t expect. Sherry told us that he once drove straight through a deep ravine to save time from driving around a corner (worry not, it was in a rural area and passengers were safely secured in the four-wheel-drive). Not long ago, he was embarrassed about ordering a “frappé” for me in the McDonald’s drive-thru. As luck would have it, the cashier didn’t hear it the first time, so he had to say it twice.
I remember him driving us around my grandpa’s farm when I was little. My cousins and I were in the back of the truck with Sherry, and he was driving like a maniac, pretending to try to throw us out (he wasn’t really, of course, it was just like a wild amusement ride). His signature endearing thing has always been giving pretend “smother treatments”—it sounds vicious, but it’s anything but—until we’d say “uncle.” Though he and Sherry never had children of their own, Pete’s always been like a second dad to me and my cousins.
Pete and Sherry married a couple of months before I was born; their 30th wedding anniversary is this December.
I pray that they will make it to that day together. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus can heal my uncle and make that happen. I pray that God will listen to us and agree that we need Pete down here far worse than they need him up in heaven…for another twenty years or so, anyway.