Yesterday was a very long day. We gathered in the early afternoon at my grandma’s church for a memorial service for my Uncle. I saw a lot of love yesterday, and too, over the last few days in a family that has always seemed somewhat cold. We’re not big on the grand gestures on that side but it was definitely there in the little things like my Aunt ensuring the documentation she sent to our work be used for both our absences, in the way my Dad arranged photos on sheets of foam-core to be placed at the front of the church in lieu of a casket, in getting hugs from my Uncle Garnet where otherwise I would have received a poke in the rib.
My mom had asked me Saturday night what I think of when I think of my Uncle. I’d already been working on my answer for awhile (I knew it was only a matter of time before the guardian of the family history asked me this) but all I could come up with was a disappointing, "I don’t know
Mom." We didn’t have the kind of relationship that gives up those great
anecdotes. We were always there together at family functions
exchanging a few words and a kiss on the cheek. We had a
shared mutual admiration, I think, but neither of us could have been said to
really know much about the other. I’ve always been a bit in awe of him really,
and therefore, shy. Not the best combination for conversation.
All I seemed to be able to think about were the inane things we talked about last Sunday: John Walsh, Dog the Bounty Hunter and some drag racing car he’d seen auctioned off on TV for an obscene amount of money. "Wasn’t even like it was a driver you’d ever heard of either," he’d said. If I’d known that was going to be the last time I would see him I would have come up with something better to say. I told my parents this over dinner. My Dad said, "But that’s what he wanted."
Late last night, as we walked Chloe home from the park Kevin said, "I hate going to funerals – they make you think. Your uncle was one year younger than my Dad." It seems trite to say that death makes you think, but it does. Kevin thought about his dad being a year older than my Uncle and I thought about my Dad being just four years younger. You can’t help but think about that.
A guy named Dave Franks gave the eulogy, which he really struggled with, poor guy. He said something great though, that helped me figure out how to think of my Uncle:
"Whether you thought he was right, or whether you thought he was wrong, he did it his way."