Saturday, January 11, 2003
Two Uncles

Two of my uncles are being buried in the next two days.

My Uncle Dick was a native of Chicago. I don't know where he met my dad's sister Ruth, who was a native of east Tennessee, like my dad, but I know that they were terribly in love. They never had any kids, only each other.

He was of German descent, but he was a marksman in the US Army in the European theater during WWII (though I'm not exactly sure where). His medals were one of the few things he still had when he left this world.

Ruth died oh, I guess, about ten or more years ago. He took care of her the best he could in her final days. They had moved to south Florida after both of them retired. I don't recall what he did, but my Aunt Ruth was a telephone operator back in the day when telephone operators were a part of everyday life. They lived in Chicago for their married life (as far as I know). I visited them there twice when I ws a kid, and I have fond memories of sleeping on the back porch of their co-op apartment (quad-plex) in the middle of summer. It meant a lot to me to be able to visit the big city.

Another of my dad's and Ruth's sisters lived near Ruth and Dick in West Palm Beach, and both she (my late Aunt Lee) and Dick ended up living in an assisted living place in Lake Worth. Lee passed away almost two years ago, just a little while after my mom. (My dad's been gone for almost thirty years.)

I saw Dick last August. He was sitting alone, asleep, in a wheelchair, in his room at the assisted living place when I got there. He never really knew who I was the whole time I was there. He was happy to see me, but he was also back asleep in no time. I took that opportunity to say my goodbyes, and I'm glad I did.

Dick passed away on 29 December: two weeks ago. Somehow, the funeral home contacted a nephew of his on his side of the family, and the nephew decided he wanted to come to the funeral, but couldn't come until this coming Monday. So, that's when they scheduled the funeral for. This nephew didn't really know my uncle, didn't know my Aunt Ruth at all, didn't know how much my cousin Tom's wife Gloria Sue had done to take care of Dick in the last few years (mainly long distance from Chattanooga). He didn't know Dick at all, but still he wanted to come to the funeral, so they've kept Dick's body in waiting for two weeks so this person who wasn't really part of Dick's life could come to the funeral. Sorry, but that really irritates me.

My Uncle Harold was my mom's sister's husband. My mom and her sibblings were all born and reared on Sand Mountain, in northeast Alabama, and that's where Uncle Harold lived with my aunt, Annie Ruth, I guess for his whole life. I'm ashamed to say I don't know much about him either. I was one of those who left my home and family in many ways at a fairly early age, and I never really repaired all the broken ties.

Still, I remember visiting them when visiting my grandmother (Mama Daniel) who lived on Sand Mountain her entire life. My Uncle Harold was a tall handsome man with a wonderful smile for everyone. He and Annie have hosted the annual family reunion for my mom's family since I can remember, even though I hadn't attended until recently after my mom passed away.

Harold's been seriously ill for the past month or so, and his kids, particularly my cousin Bill, have had their hands full. He and Annie were very close, too, and I wonder how she will live without him. I don't want to imagine those kinds of feelings.

When my mom died, everyone was so good to come from so far away, so I feel really awful about not being able to go to Harold's funeral (tomorrow) or Dick's funeral (Monday). Even having gotten away from family and from home town, I've never gotten comfortable to being so far away when someone who matters leaves us.

I'll hush now. I don't usually use this space for personal ramblings. But these gentlemen meant something to me, and I don't think I'm expressing that adequately at all.