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Breaking The Chains


In June 2014, my parents, my sons, my sister and I headed to the Northern Cape, to a forgotten little town called Petrusville, to go and visit my mom’s brother, Uncle Tim (he and my medium friend have the same name). The trip was for healing, as with family politics we had not seen my uncle in 5 years. My dad was adamant that my mom could not leave things they had been, and he insisted that the visit happen.

From the moment we had arrived the atmosphere was filled with love and acceptance. My mom and my uncle buried the issues in their past and they spent a 4 day weekend reminiscing and catching up on each other’s lives. My mom had always told my sister and I that though her older sister had taken care of her for a large part of her life, she and Uncle Tim had a bond that made them soul mates. And not in the romantic sense. Everything they went through, good or bad, they found their strength to go on from each other.

Uncle Tim was a truck driver, and he was in a huge accident when I was 8 years old (1992). He had been driving on a long distance haul. They were travelling along a mountain pass and his co-driver was asleep with his head against the door. As they rounded a very sharp bend the load on the truck shifted, and threw the truck off course, heading for the barrier. My uncle did his best to keep the truck from going over, and when he realized that he could not stop it, he leaned over and grabbed his sleeping passenger. As that happened, the truck cab was jolted back, and the seatbelt constricted high against my uncle’s neck. The pressure was enough to break his neck in two places and he became a quadriplegic.

Going from being a strong, muscle built man to being unable to do anything for himself was immensely difficult for my uncle to deal with. He had his moods where he felt like he did not want to go on. But mostly he had a will to keep living. When the accident happened initially, doctors told my mom that they could conservatively not see my uncle living 7 years in the state he was in. He surprised everyone.

Going back to June 2014, the Monday (16th) as we were packing to head home, Uncle Tim was still in bed. So we took turns going in to the room to go and say goodbye. And as I knelt next to him, he took the left side of the bed, and kissed his cheek I had a thought dawn on me that had me very upset. I swallowed hard and fought back tears as I left the room and headed to the car. As we drove out of Petrusville I told my mom I had the sinking feeling that this was the last time we would see him again.

Saturday, 21 June 2015. I had been asleep and woke up at 11:55PM to go to the bathroom. As I sat there I heard the sound of a woman crying, hysterically. The crying was coming from outside, and it was heartbreaking. Then my phone rang, and as I answered my mom cried and said “My child, Uncle Tim just passed away.”

The shock nearly floored me. I grabbed my keys and ran out of the house to the flat, letting myself in with my spare keys for the flat. My mom was lying on her bed, shaking as the waves of despair came over her. I got on to the bed with her and she buried her face in my neck, weeping uncontrollably. I gave her the time she needed, and when she felt she could talk, she told me that he had had a bleeding ulcer that ruptured; he literally drowned in his own blood. His wife and his best friend had tried their best to keep him alive, but they were 45 minutes from the closest hospital, and there just was not enough time. Sitting there with my heartbroken mother, crying myself, I reminded my mom of what I had known a year ago. We had been in Petrusville to say goodbye.

The next day family was coming and going and my friends Tim and Elaine were also there for support. Tim sat in my mom’s room, on the edge of the bed and told my mom he had a message for us. At the time that my uncle passed away, Tim got a mental projection of chains breaking. He told my mom my uncle wanted us to know that he is free, the chains that bound him to a broken earthly body had been broken and he was happily walking again. As we sat there, music was playing on my mom’s tablet, and the song that was playing suddenly stopped. Who’ll stop the rain by Credence Clearwater Revival suddenly started playing. It was a special song for my mom and her brother, though she has never told us why.

My mom was holding on to my hand, she squeezed my hand and then she said, “My soulmate is free”.

She still breaks down when she hears songs they loved listening to, or when he comes up in general conversation. We all do. He was a wonderful man and we all loved him. I know my mom regrets the years they did not speak, but she also had the chance to say goodbye to him. That, to me, is what really matters.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, triden07, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

triden07 (70 stories) (279 posts)
8 years ago (2016-02-01)
Hi Red
I am so sorry that it took me so long to realise you had written to me here. As someone on the outside, seeing a loved one go through the paid and humiliation of being disabled, I really can identify with your fears. Even more so with the fears that are creeping in to your dreams.

We, as a family, received horrible news last Thursday (28 January 2016) and we are still reeling. The emotions are high and the fear is palpable.
RedWolf (31 stories) (1292 posts)
8 years ago (2015-11-28)
I just read your story and I'm in tears. I called my older sister last night and found out that my mother's brother died the night before. I am ashamed that I haven't visited but they live on the second floor of their house and the staircase is rather steep for me. Also I didn't want my Uncle to see me in the condition I'm in,it's bad enough when strangers look at you with pity, worse when your own family does.
I'm terrified of going through more surgery and haven't quit smoking yet but Monday is my deadline to quit then in March I will probably go under the invited hopefully they can take out all of the Titanium and leave it out then after I'm healed from that they are going to operate on my neck. I was put in the I.C.U. After my first back fusion because of my blood
Pressure was too high.
I just keep getting premonitions things aren't going to go right and dreams of nothing but
Something going wrong but that is probably the fear doing that.
triden07 (70 stories) (279 posts)
9 years ago (2015-09-28)
Hi Tweed
I come from a very close family. Given the sheer size of our family, one would not think that people would be so close. But Uncle Tim, he and my mom really had a bond like no other brother and sister that I have ever come across. He was such an amazing inspiration to us, about being the best you can be in any circumstance or situation, such a kind, wonderful, thoughtful man. I don't think I will ever hear that song and not think of him now.

Hi Val
I think the big comfort for everyone is that my uncle doesn't need to be forced in to a chair every day anymore. He never allowed his bodily woes to cripple his spirit, to me he will always be an example of what a strong man is.
valkricry (49 stories) (3273 posts) mod
9 years ago (2015-09-26)
Oh, Triden... What a lovely touching story. I'm so glad they had a chance to makeup. And Tim is correct, for many the end of our physical journey is the breaking of chains.
Tweed (35 stories) (2501 posts)
9 years ago (2015-09-25)
Triden, you had me reaching for the tissues by the end. How honestly you write! This was very powerful to read in a very beautiful way. Wish you and your family the very best through this time. You've got me humming that Credence song. 😊

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