We’re more than halfway through the month, and while I planned to post lots of good spooky things, I just haven’t been in the right mindset to write. Or really do much of anything other than work.
My great uncle died at the beginning of the month. It was sudden and unexpected, and it’s affecting me a lot more than I thought it would. All of the people on this side of my family are blessed with long lives and unnatural youth, and the last one to die was in 2006 at the age of 95. She was my great grandmother’s sister, and about six months before she died she had a stroke. Prior to that she still lived on her own, drove herself around, ran her own errands, and was just generally the same badass that she was in her youth. Even after her stroke, when she moved into assisted living, she kept escaping. The last time I saw her she told me it was because she was bored, and I about died laughing. I still miss her.
My uncle Bob was 81 years old. He exercised every day. Until very recently he was still riding a Harley, scuba diving, skiing, and playing bass and singing in a band. He had slowed down a little due to a bad hip, but he was looking forward to having it replaced and being back to his old self.
Some of my earliest memories are of spending time at his house, right on the lake in my hometown. His backyard was a sandy private beach, and he had a boat, and we thought it was the coolest thing EVER. His daughter, my cousin Luen, is only a little younger than my sister, and she had the best toys. A weekend at Uncle Bob’s was basically the greatest. Sadly he sold the house before any of us got our driver’s licenses. He told me it was because he’d already had one generation of nieces invade his beach and he wasn’t prepared to do it again. I blame my mother. She was always one of his favorites, but she was a troublemaker.
One of my favorite activities, even into adulthood, was going to see Uncle Bob play. He was in bands and making music for most of his life, and I remember being 7 or 8 and going to see him play at a popular lakeside restaurant/bar and thinking he was famous. I had a total fangirl moment every time he’d talk to us from the stage. That didn’t really go away when I grew up. Seeing his band meant good music and beers and laughing with my cousins, things I always looked forward to.
I’m pretty sure that all of his nieces, and then great-nieces, got his version of “the talk” as soon as we were old enough to date guys with motorcycles. He had some wisdom to impart to us: don’t get on a bike with anyone who’d been riding less than a year; don’t get on from the right side or you’ll burn yourself; cover your skin unless you want it grated on the pavement; don’t climb up the side on turns. We might not have needed this information, but he wanted us to be safe. He also taught my stepdad to ride and that there are only four things he really needed on a long-distance bike trip: a toothbrush, getting there jeans, going out jeans, and motel shorts.
There are so many other things… his hair that never changed. His laugh. The way he yelled at us (meaning anywhere from 20 to 40 people) to shut up on Christmas Eve so he could call Luen, just like he did at the same time every night for most of her life. The way he didn’t let anyone call him “uncle” until his nieces had kids of their own because he didn’t want to seem old. His goofy faces.
Honestly, I could talk about him for ages and still not adequately convey the kind of person he was or how important he was to our whole family. He wasn’t a saint by any means, but he loved his family and was always there to help us when we needed it. He’d likely be complaining, but he’d be there. I miss him.