Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Annie Addendum

Family Update
I just wanted to shortly mention for the record, that my Mom's great and proud family has lost another member.

I got a call late last night from my brother Jack in Indiana. It was to inform me that my Mom's eldest brother, my Uncle Johnny passed away over the weekend. He had suffered a fall in his garage several days prior, and died of complications this past Saturday. He was the eldest male in the family of twelve children. He was just shy of his 89th birthday. Apparently he was growing more and more frail, so given the circumstances, his death, while unfortunate, was no surprise.

But something else Jack said last night, caught me completely off-guard.

"Well," he said, "That means there are only two left."
"What? You're kidding!" I exclaimed as the reality began to sink in.

Of the twelve siblings, now only one Aunt and one Uncle remain. This was an elderly group, so I shouldn't be shocked, but I can't seem to help myself from being just that. I've spent the past week engorged in the memories, and reading of the exploits of my Mother, Aunts and Uncles, and in my mind's eye, these folks are all 30 years younger. They're still old, but not that old.

I felt so ashamed to have grown so out of touch with my Mom's family that I didn't even realize that Aunt Lee, my Mom's directly younger sister had passed a few years ago. Lee was the one whom I quoted in this last post about my Mom, who wrote an incredibly transparent account in the family history book, who I knew the best and liked the least of all my Aunts. She was the one who lived down the street from us in Middletown. Her son was my best-friend Cousin E. I knew she had a stroke a few years ago, but I really don't think I knew that she had died. And that both angers and saddens me.

But the part of this mortality wake-up call that hit me the hardest, was the realization that Uncle Paul was gone too. He's the one who wrote and compiled the family history book. Now as I search my memory I believe I may recall hearing that he had passed away a few years ago, but I had completely forgotten. I just can't believe that I could be so callously indifferent as to have forgotten that my favorite Uncle had died.

Yes, Paul, if any of my Mom's brothers, was my favorite Uncle. His eldest son, Steve was also one of my closest cousin-friends when we were growing up. Uncle Paul, or "Prilly" as everyone called him was an industrial draftsman, and an excellent illustrator. I always felt a kinship to him as being the only other person in my family who had artistic ability similar to my own, although I only dreamed of being as good as he.

He used to call me "Dwimmy" for such a reason I never knew. He was a goofball. A practical joker. A fast-talking flash of movement. He was the father of three boys. He was an avowed atheist who sang in the Baptist Church choir his entire life. He was obviously a hard man to figure out. I never tried to.

The saddest thing of all is the fact that after writing this story about my Mom, and all the time I've spent reading and studying the family history book, I actually thought about calling Uncle Paul to thank him again for the wonderful job he did on it.

God I feel stupid.

I've heard it said that you never really realize you're getting old until all your friends and relatives start dying off.

I feel pretty fucking old right about now...
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