My uncle Leo is the family patriarch on my mother’s side. He’s the most sage, and elegant of men. Because I didn’t have grandfathers growing up, as the only male of my maternal grandmother’s siblings, he took on that role for me. I have always been in awe of him. One of the reasons was his ability to tell a story. Uncle Leo is an orator of the best kind. He has a baritone with gravitas. His face lights up when he tells a story. And though extremely distinguished and quite conservative, he can get into playing the characters in a story and make you believe he is the princess in the tower, or the giant about to grind your bones for bread, or anything really.
On Thursday, my uncle suffered a stroke which left him without the ability to speak.
My only example of this type of stroke I learned while researching Sharon Creech’s biography. Her father suffered a similar stroke that rendered him speechless for the rest of his life. It’s not a hopeful example.
As yet, I have not found the words to overcome my shock. All the things I’m thinking, and all the things I’d like to say are still trapped inside me, much as his are right now (though it’s almost insolent to compare the two). I am only writing this in the selfish hope that it will help me deal with what’s happening, while the family waits for test results to come in and give us some idea of what his future might be.