I had a long entry written up about this, but it didn't post for some reason. So rather than go back and try to re-write what I had written about my late Uncle, I"ll try to write something that summed up my thoughts.
My uncle passed away last week. It was tough to hear, since he was just getting back on his feet from having some major medical problems. He was a great man. A man who was dedicated to his work as a builder, his work in his community, and most importantly his family. He was a veteran of the Korean conflict, and from there he went to work for some corporations that sent him around the world on projects. After some time, he decided to start his own company and build houses and other buildings. He left a big company and big paycheck to have time with his family. He built some beautiful houses and properties. I remember when I was young and my family went to see my Aunt and Uncle, he'd take us to something he was working on. It was cool to see.
He did a lot of work for his town on their planning committee, as well as was a member of local organizations and his local church. Even though he was involved with many things, his wife and kids always came first. Both he and my Aunt were what people should write books on about parenting. My cousins are awesome people and great role models.
He was a generous and loving person. He helped my parents out when they needed. I remember when my parents wanted to buy the property our house in Pennsylvania was built on, my parents didn't have the cash available for it at the moment. They called my Aunt and Uncle for a loan, and they didn't hesitate. After we were at the reality office in Pa, we drove to New Jersey for dinner with my Aunt and Uncle and they gave my parents the money. That's something that always stayed with me. After the house was built, My Uncle came to see it and walked around it with his "builders eye" to inspect it. He later did that when additions were made to the house. Every time he and my Aunt were at the house (which was often-wasn't too far from where they lived and my Aunt loved to visit), I always remember the generosity they showed to make it possible.
Another example of their love, and some say patience and tolerance of you want to look at it that way, is when I introduced them to my girlfriend. My Uncle and Aunt were true Republicans and a conservative's conservatives-the C word in their house was Clinton. My girlfriend is...lets say on the other side of the spectrum. So after explaining them to my girlfriend, and them meeting, everything went great. I still joke that was a testament to their love, and tolerance.
Being at my Uncle's house between viewings was sad. It was sad to be there on a sad occasion, and not the happy ones I usually was there. All my life, Easters were there, sometimes summer parties where held there, and when I was younger, at least a week of the summer was at the house. I remember helping my Aunt or cousins with the sheep they used to raise there. I remember watching my cousins and Uncle build a pen in their garage for the sheep either pregnant, or in the wintertime before they built a barn for the sheep. I remember going to the 4H fair near them. I remember the summers where my mom would take us out there to spend a week there. My mind was flooded with these memories as I was walking around the house. It felt like an end of a great era at the house.
One other thing that I couldn't stop thinking about is my cousins' children, his grandchildren. Some have known him all their lives and have a lot of their own memories of them, but some of the younger ones didn't have a lot of time to know him. I'm sure what time they had was wonderful, but it's sad they wont' get to spend more time with him.
I think the most emotion I showed during the entire weekend was when one of my cousins said it's weird not seeing his dad at the head of the dining room table holding court with the people sitting there. He then said he still felt it was weird that my dad wasn't there with his dad talking and having a good time. That got to me a little. My Uncle and my dad enjoyed each other greatly.
I have an idea of what my cousins are going through, it sucks losing a parent, I was trying hard to be the stable one in the emotional situation, and I can't lie that it was hard to turn off my emotions. It was hard when my cousins asked me to be a poll bearer for him, like he asked me to be for his mother two years ago. It was hard to keep my emotions in when a "Taps" was played as the flag draped casket was put in the hearse. Just today I felt like I was able to write this without getting too emotional at the keyboard.
My Uncle the last two years was still dealing with his wife's passing, and always said he looked forward to seeing her again. He also was still affected by his daughter's passing 30 years ago. I am sure now he is with his wife and daughter happy and at peace.