On June 28th, I received two phone calls telling me that my uncle (Dad's oldest and remaining brother) passed away in his home. My aunt (his sister) found him. He had just turned 73 one month and one day previous.
A "Celebration of Life" service was held at the funeral home where as my sister puts it... "all the family goes when they die". Which is true. I was 9 or 10 the first time I entered the funeral home... when my grandmother passed. Then my uncle. Then my grandpa. Then my aunt. Now my other uncle. Kinda weird, huh?
During the COL ceremony, we were asked to share stories about my uncle. The night before, I couldn't sleep so I was up until after midnight jotting notes and stories about my uncle. I took them with me as "insurance"... as I didn't know if I could share them without crying... and I could just read it if I had to. I was the first to go... and then my brother took a turn. Not many people spoke, even though I know several people had really *good* stories.
My earliest memory of my uncle is when I was 5 or 6 years old. While I was at his house, he had crawled under the kitchen table, flipped his teeth out (Yes, he had dentures where the teeth could be flipped forward and out!) and growled. Then he proceeded to chase after me on his hands and knees. I laughed and ran. He then went back under the table until I was "brave" enough to get closer... at which time he'd come rushing out after me again.
Fast forward about 20 years. He was still full of fun and mischief. My parents had a get-together at their house. They have this huge tree where the center is rotted out. I heard him say, "I want to see what's up in there!" I grabbed my camera and took what became one of my favorite pictures of him.
My uncle is on the left. His oldest son is on the right -- this photo was taken on his Dad's "Celebration of Life", 15 years after his Dad's photo was taken. Pretty cool, eh?
As I looked through my photo albums, I noticed a theme to the majority of photos I had of my uncle. My uncle LOVED food. I have photos that showed him holding plates of food -- sitting at a picnic table... sitting on a lawn chair. I even have one of him sitting on the ground, propped up against a tree with a plate of food. At family get-togethers, he would always get caught eating things he wasn't supposed to (He was diabetic). Can you blame him? Food at family gatherings is awesome!
My uncle brought our family a lot of good times, and he definitely will be missed.