Salt Lake City

My Uncle Jack

Salt Lake City Airport… again.  It’s snowing, and I’m here to visit my Uncle Jack.  He has a brain tumor.  Last year at this time I was in Salt Lake often, visiting Sofie at her ”boarding school,” or “spa,” as Don still likes to call it.  I spent a lot of time reconnecting with Uncle Jack and Aunt Shawna.  It was one of the silver linings of Sofie being gone.  
When I was twelve years old, I took a Greyhound bus by myself from Riverside, California to Salt Lake City to visit them.  It was so cool to be on the bus alone.  I read, I wrote in my journal (even then!  Except with pens!  And fewer exclamation points!) and along with the old lady sitting next to me, tried to remember all the state capitals, and named fruits or vegetables starting with each letter of the alphabet.  We had a stop in Barstow to have dinner, one in Las Vegas where we drove by my favorite hotel sign for the now-long-gone Stardust Hotel, and one in Provo at 4:00AM where I had two sugar donuts and a hot chocolate.  When I got off the bus in Salt Lake there was my Uncle Jack waiting for me. 
Jack Brooks 1966
Last year when I told him Sofie would be attending school close to his home, he was waiting for me again.  What I know now is that he and Aunt Shawna are always waiting for me or any family member who needs them.  I was so afraid to leave Sofie at school, but knowing my Uncle Jack was ten minutes away from her made it okay.  If I wanted her out of the school, I knew this marine/cowboy would go get her if we asked him to, and I felt sorry for anyone who tried to stand in his way. 
Uncle Jack is a fighter.  He was born three months premature in a hospital with no neonatal care, and lived.  When he was eight a horse fell on him and tore his spleen, and he lived.  He fought in Vietnam and he lived. He even survived raising five children.  Now he fights for his life again against brain cancer.  Based on what I know about my Uncle, I’m not betting on the cancer.