On this blog, we muse about the fruit we taste when we learn about family members, both living and dead, through family history writing. Wandering through the "family tree orchard," we conduct interviews, enjoy family reunions, and figure out how to make lemonade (and fruit cake!) from the heritage we share with the fruits and nuts on our family trees.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Tough uncles, tender lesson: Grab the moment
Mom was in
middle of her family, between three older brothers and three younger brothers. We lost the last of the older uncles, Ern, in 2005, and it made us want to hang onto those younger three:
working and tough, Uncle Verl was a poet at heart, a soft touch for anything
fun for kids, from pennies for candy to dollars for the drive-in movie. He had an impish sense of humor and loved singing and music.
Uncle Bud is handsome, built like a wedge, with black curly hair (well-- gray now!) and a ready grin. My favorite “Bud” quote is: “You
can learn a lot from a dog—he doesn’t just gobble up a pancake, he flips it
over to see if it’s burnt.”
was the baby of the family—he gave great bear hugs, wrote poems about
outhouses, and always had a dog or two at his side. Somehow Uncle John reminded me the most of our Grandma Rhodie, his saintly mother.
our country in the military; all have sweet wives.
Year’s Day, 2008, Uncle Verl went to start the car before church, slipped on
the ice and hit his head. Surgeons
operated on the subdural hematoma, but three weeks later, he died.
Uncle John was on his daily walk with his dogs when he fell and hit his
head. A week later he
funeral, I regretted once again all the times I haven’t visited, or phoned, or written my
uncles and aunts. I firmly resolved to
take some family artifacts to Bud, our last remaining uncle “soon.”
visited by July, when Bud fell in the bathtub and hit his head. We feared the
worst—that after this third strike, we’d be out of uncles.
At age 87,
Bud seemed to agree. When the neurosurgeon gave him two options—have surgery
and live, or go home and die, he said, “Take me home.” Someone called his son, Jody, and handed the
phone to Bud; ten seconds later Bud said. “I’ll have surgery.”
what Jody said to Bud, but growing up on a dairy farm, Bud had often warned Jody about
a kick in a tender part of his anatomy if he didn’t finish a job. Perhaps Jody reversed the threat.
surgery patients often fight hard coming out of anesthesia—it took four male
nurses to hold Bud down. I felt sorry
for them—Bud has wrestled cattle all his life! Still, this man who had never
spent a night in a hospital spent several worrisome days in the ICU.
post-surgery, we slipped into Bud’s room in rehab. Thirty staples zig-zagged across his scalp, but his
grip was strong, and many younger men would envy his biceps. His wife was
finally sleeping at night.
ironic that we communicate with numerous “friends” online—if you call forwarding
recycled items communicating—but don’t make time to give undivided
love to uncles, aunts, and other precious souls?
song IS sentimental but it’s true: “Go gladden the lonely, the dreary; Go comfort
the weeping, the weary; Go scatter kind deeds on your way—Oh, make the world