I wrote this in the depths of Friday night.
My uncle was a presence at most of the significant moments of my life.
He gave me my first teddy, who, bedraggled and moth-eaten, still sits on the shelf.
He 'gave me away' at my wedding thirty-eight years ago.
He and I spent a night sitting in hospital together waiting, as it turned out, for my mother to die.
He was the one who phoned me in the middle of another night to say my grandmother had died. 'It's just you and me now, love,' he said.
And yet I hardly knew him.
It wasn't until he retired and eventually moved back to the village of his childhood that I got to know a bit more about this amazing man. Father of a son with cerebral palsy - when Huw was born Uncle John and Auntie Audrey were advised by the doctor to put him in a home and forget about him - Uncle John was one of the founders of a charity, Fitzroy, that has home-from-homes across England for disabled adults who can no longer be cared for by their families.
But it's not just love and care he gave to his son and wife and his achievements in his working life as well as the charity work; it's the love and respect that so many people have for him and the value they place upon him, the inspiration they receive from him.
After his dear friend, Edith, died, Uncle John continued to care for and play a part in the lives of her daughters. One of them told me yesterday, 'He's been a better father to me than my own father ever was.'
I was glad to hear that but sad too. Sad that we'd never had that close relationship. The closest it came was when I told him that I was being treated for depression and he took me out to lunch and answered my questions about my mother and my father. He said, 'I'm so sorry; I should have talked to you before this.'
We both have our regrets but as I sit here, by his bedside at two in the morning, I remember another night almost forty-five years to the day, when we sat in a hospital together and I prayed so hard for my mum to live.
Tonight I have prayed just as hard that he would die, that God would take him. Out of his struggle, out of his pain. He's had enough, he's ready. He is tired and distressed.
Dying is undignified, It's not right that a strong gentle-man should suffer this. He has no energy to 'rage against the dying of the light.'
Answer his prayer Lord. 'Dear God, how long does it take to die?'