Monday column: A tribute to my uncle

Opinion Sunday 14/May/2023 20:15 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday column: A tribute to my uncle

Last week, one of my uncles made a perfect exist from this world. He died peacefully six hours after the conclusion of the wedding of his daughter.

It was perfect timing as if he did not want the family to cancel the wedding and getting into a bereavement gear while they were in the middle of a celebration. Of course, the family would have preferred that he lived a little longer, but then life is not about what we want.

Looking back, my uncle always planned his life to the last detail while he was alive and in my opinion, that contributed to his longevity. He was 93 when he passed away and that definitely is a long way to go in a life.

That brings the question of longevity and the content of our lives.

I went to greet him during the last Eid, barely a week before his death. At his age, he was physically fit, moving around with his own two feet and wearing no glasses. We discussed international politics and even economics. He was versed with all the latest in global arena. Now I know, what contributed to his longevity.

Like most of us, he was not perfect, he had his own flaws in his younger days. But he kept his mind active all his life and the most important thing, he was almost stress free. Looking back now, he never let anything get into the way between his peace of mind and sanity. He had his own share of ups and downs in life, including living in the normal ‘worry zone’ of children transgressing the path of life.  As the saying goes, he took it all on his chin and emerged an unscathed.  

I once asked his if he had any regrets in life. He looked thoughtfully on the ceiling and said honestly, yes, he had a few, but he did not let them push him down. He went into a little detail with a smile on his face. Now looking back, I know he used that path of regret as a pedestal to correct his future. The last question I asked him was “what is your biggest challenge in life” and straight away said, “I will answer you when we are alone together.”

Of course, I never got to hear the answer. He left us just a few days later, leaving me to wonder what would have been his answer. As I search for a possible answer, my mind is now going to the previous discussions I had with him. He once said that the best way to live a life is “to take one day at a time.”

That does not need explaining. The past, he meant without really saying it, has no business in our present lives while the future, since we have not lived it yet, can take care of itself. We have many questions what really contributes to a long life. But again, my uncle showed the way that nothing ever fazed him no matter what life had on his path. He remained true to himself all the way to the ripe old age of 93.