The following piece is titled “Slippin’ Away” and was written my senior year of High school. It is deticated to my late Uncle Gary Taylor.
Looking onto the beautiful snow covered streets of Columbus, Ohio, in the midst of the joy of the Christmas season, family mingled. It was December 27th, the earliest day that all 22 of our family members could travel to be together. Presents lay beneath the tree as the air of misery and melancholy hide behind everyone’s smiles. The reason for everyone’s hidden grief is my Uncle Gary. He was a man who was a symbol of strength to everyone he met. Every time I’d see him he always said, “Wow Cam, you’re lookin’ pretty strong these days, go ahead, and give it a shot!” Uncle Gary signaled for me to punch him in his stomach with all my might to see if I could finally make him flinch. To this day I’ve never made him flinch, and I will never get another try. My strappingly tough Uncle Gary had been diagnosed with stage four cancer. He had been a smoker all his life and loved a good beer, but, hey, it was my Uncle Gary; nothing could bring him down, right?
The cancer quickly spread to different parts of his body and caused him to grow weak. Yet, on that day during the Christmas season, I would never have noticed the dying man in the room. For the entire time he was with us he had an animus peace about him while the rest of us seemed to be attempting to hide the concern for a loved one’s failing health.
Back at home, before we left for Ohio, we could not figure out what Christmas present to get my Uncle Gary. It was the Saturday after Christmas, and all the stores were having their “Santa’s gone home sales”. Before we went to the airport, I rushed to the mall to purchase a gift for my brawny uncle. The first store I ran to for some reason was Macy’s. Stumbling directly into the men’s shoe department, it hit me; this could be the perfect gift. I quickly searched for a pair of slippers, snatched them up for purchase, and then sped off.
The next day in Ohio, gathered around the huge tree, my Uncle Gary opened his gift from me. I was glad to see he liked the slippers, but little did I know just how significant those moccasin-like slippers would prove to be. Shortly after Christmas my Uncle Gary was admitted into the hospital and only had a few precious months of his life left with us. His cancer and sedentary state caused his feet to swell tremendously. The only shoes that would fit and keep his swollen feet warm were the slippers I gave him. He peacefully slipped away with those same slippers still on his feet. Without a doubt, I had been lucky to give the perfect gift to my Uncle Gary. The powerful lesson this taught me is to always remember that even the smallest, most insignificant actions could have a more profound impact on another’s life than you could ever imagine.