For a few days now, I’ve tried to sit down to write a blog, keep building my foundation for water science, and have been distracted.  There is a large picture in my mind of my uncle, standing in a river, fishing with his fly rod.  Today would have been his 77th birthday.  He did not reach this milestone… covid took him a few days ago. 

My uncle was the quirky eternal bachelor.  He’d do things like buy us admission tickets for Legoland but not join us because he “wasn’t in the mood.”  Hours later he’d be waiting for us outside like only minutes had passed.  In his hands a bunch of leaves belonging to which trees?  We’d need to guess!  He’d spend 30 minutes flipping back and forth through a 4-page brochure on fishing in Norway, clearly excited about a trip that was happening months in the future. 

I suppose you could say that he was an environmentalist a long time ago, when few were.  A wounded hedgehog was nursed back to health under his watchful eye and became an outdoor pet.  He was happy about my choice of career field and often took me to interesting water places when I’d visit him in Germany.  Confluences of rivers, gigantic springs, melting glaciers, and -of course- fishing holes were all on the agenda for the day’s tour. 

We don’t know how or where he got covid.  Germany is experiencing a severe lockdown, so his avenues for transmission would have been limited to businesses that are open – supermarkets, drugstores.  He knew he was sick but refused to be taken care of.  By the time my aunt (his sister) was able to reach him on the phone, he was barely able to speak.  Her next call was to the ambulance, the call after that was with the doctor at the hospital.        

I just received notice from an email birthday card service that my uncle and I used to send card back and forth to each other.  Falls Sie die Option “Benachrichtigung bei Empfang” aktiviert haben, erhalten Sie auch eine E-Mail, sobald Onkel Heinz die Postkarte abgeholt hat.  In short, the email says that I’ll receive a notice when Onkel Heinz opens his birthday card. 

Knowing that notice will never come, I’m back to the picture of my uncle standing in the Danube River, fishing with his fly rod.  It’s a hot day, and the cool water feels good on his tired feet.  The wind is in the trees, rustling the leaves.  The sound of running water is soothing…

Forgive the blog digression, but writing about loss is part of processing it.  In September, I lost my father.  Writing about him helped me and I look back on this post when I miss him: