My uncle Bevan wasn't like most uncles.
He lived next door to me growing up.
And he was intellectually impaired.
I was very fortunate to live right next door to my Nan.
We just had to jump the fence to visit, and we did, almost daily.
Bevan was the youngest in my Dad's family. My Dad and his elder brother, my other uncle, ran the family farm. It was wonderful growing up with so many family members so nearby.
Bevan was never able to learn to speak 'our words'.
But he had his own language that only family members and a few very close friends could understand.
We all had special names, I was 'Eee'.
He remained around the mental age of a 9 year old boy and never grew very tall.
He could swear like a trouper (one of the few things he did learn at school, taught by the big boys) when he was angry.
And he always laughed when everyone else did, even if he didn't understand what was funny.
We'd often end up laughing with Bevan, his was so infectious.
He listened to the horse races on his transistor radio and cheered on the winners.
He went out into the paddock to watch the interstate train, he knew exactly when it would run.
He would greet our friends with a very enthusiastic handshake.
He loved meeting new people.
He was part of our family, he was always there.
And then he lost his eyesight.
It probably could have been saved but he didn't have the communication skills to let anyone know.
By the time it became obvious, it was too late.
He lived for many years in the local nursing home.
His mum, my Nan, joined him a few years later.
We lost Nan five years ago.
I hadn't seen Bevan for years.
And just a few months ago we all went to visit my other Grandma in the same nursing home.
Then we saw Bev, too.
I am so thankful we saw him that day.
He was listening to his radio and was happy to hear our voices.
I wish I shook his hand, but I'm so glad I got to say,
"Hello Bev. It's Thea. Remember me?"
He replied, "Eeee?"
Bevan went into a coma last night and passed away this morning.
He was 60.
I've been crying bucket loads of tears, which may seem odd as he hadn't been part of my life for so many years. But he was a big part as I was growing up. And now there is another hole in the family.
I know you will be so happy when you see Nan again.
You won't believe it at first.
You'll be a bit confused and say, "Mum?"
And she'll say, "Bevan!" and give you the biggest hug with tears in her eyes.
One day I will, too.