Lauren Magliaro’s heart shattered when her father was admitted to the hospital with an aneurysm. But during his recovery, an unexpected visitor arrived at his bedside to heal old family wounds and bring newfound hope to her family.
My father is funny, smart, hardworking and loving. He taught me to drive, throw a baseball and fish. One other thing my dad’s good at is holding a bit of a grudge. For most of my teen years, he didn’t speak to his younger brother, although they were at many family functions together.
I was never sure why my dad was so angry with my uncle in the first place. But they spent many Christmases, Thanksgivings, and Easter Sundays seated at opposite ends of the table. It was simply something that we all accepted at the time.
When I was 19, I got a call in my college dorm that my dad was having serious medical problems. My mom and grandmother picked me up in the middle of the night so I could be there the next day when he was scheduled to transfer to a better hospital. I didn’t sleep that night, not a wink. I tossed, turned, and was almost delirious when we arrived at the hospital early the next morning before the transfer.
That morning, as my mom and I walked down the hallway of the hospital, we could see straight into my dad’s room. A tall man wearing a stylish suit stood over my father’s bed with his back to us. Casually, my mom remarked how nice it was for the doctor to come by to see my dad so early in the morning. But through my sleepless fog, something about the scene struck me as odd. The man with his back to us was standing very quietly and still, looking down, but he was holding both of my dad’s hands in his own. Not typical doctor behavior.
I stopped cold in my tracks and whispered softly to my mom, “That’s not a doctor.” I knew right away it was my uncle. But, little did I know, I would continue to reflect on that quiet moment for decades. And it would be the beginning of something truly wonderful.
The hours and days that followed were some of the most trying of my young years. My dad had had a brain aneurysm and ended up in the hospital for quite a while. My uncle stayed with my mom and me the entire time. He forced me to eat, bringing me healthy snacks and making sure I actually ate them even though I had no appetite. He gave me his mobile phone, a novelty at the time, to check in with my best friend. He supported my mom as she tried to stay strong for me. Honestly, I don’t recall him leaving our side once through the entire ordeal. When I think back on those uncertain days, I remember two things: being scared, and my uncle by our side.
Thankfully, my dad pulled through beautifully. He didn’t even need surgery. Somehow, the brain aneurysm healed itself. I don’t have much medical knowledge, but it always seemed like a miracle. The other miracle was my father’s new relationship with his brother. He couldn’t hold a grudge anymore.
Not only had my uncle helped him but he had helped my mom and me get through the hardest days of our life. It was the true definition of a clean slate.
After that, my dad and his brother became as close as can be. It was incredible to watch them get to know each other again, and become the best of friends. We got to know him, his wife, and his three amazing sons. Eventually, my dad even went to work for my uncle.
Years later, when I was pregnant with my son, my uncle offered me a job where I could work from home so that I wouldn’t have to leave my son in daycare. Being a stay-at-home mom was my dream come true, and he made it possible. It is still one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me. Four years ago, my uncle died tragically at the age of 58.
I can’t even put into words the great loss our family has experienced through his passing. Though devastated at the loss of his brother, my dad was there for my uncle’s wife and three grown sons, the same way my uncle had been there for me and my mom two decades earlier.
I miss my uncle every day, especially seeing him and my father together. They always reminded me of the importance of forgiveness, and that all things are possible with love. I’m thankful they had 20 good years together, and I’m so very grateful that I have this story to tell.
This story was written by Lauren Magliaro and originally appeared in our print magazine.