Dear Wigleaf,

My Uncle _____ is doing badly. They say he won't make it through to spring. The family is handling it.

This is the uncle who went to prison for stealing on the job at the Post Office—he forgot about the cameras. None of us mentioned this for thirty years for fear of ruining Thanksgiving.

He pulled the ends off lightning bugs on warm summer evenings, lining them up on his bare knees.

He gave out lemons when all of us kids got the mumps, and our cousin cried it hurt so much.

He had grievances, many of them, like little pills. Hunkered in an easy chair, bitter at the end of the day, he'd say, "I'll get the last laugh." In our heart of hearts we always thought, No you won't, we'll get it. For one thing, he had a bad liver. But it's not the liver that'll kill him in the end—it's a prostate issue.

We'll go to the funeral. They'll drop the box with him in it. Eventually the hole will be filled. Now will be the time for us to laugh the last laugh. But none of us will, not a single one. There's just nothing funny about it.



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