My Uncle, my grandfather, and my father in 1943.
We put uncle Stew in the earth on Saturday Septemeber 30th. By the generosity of Cousin Dave we put daddy there also with pop at Fairview. They are all together. (My Grandmother Marion too. That's another story.)
I was privileged to be in the presence of an extended family I rarely ever see gathered in one place still in deep grief, as I think I am myself.
Of course life goes on. But there is a deep emptiness now. One I did not know was there. Did not know could be there.
My uncle had this affect on people. He influenced them just by being him. He was subtle yet firm and a natural at it like no other I have ever known. He had an authority about him. It commanded respect. And respect is what I gave him.
He was responsible for me being a Boy Scout. He challenged me directly with: "You either be a follower or a leader. "
I have walked the safety razors edge between exactly what that means, and how it applies to me.
How I apply it to life.
Mostly I go my own way. I do not follow others blindly. I think for myself. Trying with all my limitations to think critically and come to decisions that benefit the most people while being as true as I can to my values of honor, truth and justice. This is perhaps the epitome of "altruism." Yet, this is the gift, or the curse, my uncle gave me.
And it was that important concept he challenged me with so many years ago which drives my attempts to make a difference today.
He took me to work with him. But I did not work side by side with him like I did with my father. However, the ethic he passed to me was the same as my parents. Work hard. Do your best. A thing worth doing is worth doing well.
Probably the most recent fond memory was when we went to a ball game together. Me, little Stewy, Eric and Uncle Stew. He complimented me on my knowledge of the city roads. I Remember I got him a hotel room on Staten Island because it was getting to the point where he wasn't driving at night anymore.
I always had a wonderful time with him. He always told me great stories which I used to fill in the blank spaces of a fractured past. He told me stories about my great grandfather Fritz, and of my dad.
My uncle was the rock of our family for me. I wanted to be there for him. Visit him as I passed through between work and home. Life intervened. Or death as it were. First daddy. Then aunt Joanne. Then Miss Jean. Then my mother.
When I was four...I cut my leg on some slate that dad had stacked in the side yard. My mother freaked. Immediately she called uncle Stew who came and rushed us to the hospital. As he carried me in his arms to the emergency room of St Vincent's, the bandage my mom had put over my exposed shin bone blew off, my mom went to retrieve it and I realize now I learned two important things.
One, that my mother loved me with a passion I will never understand.
The other that my uncle had a great amount of common sense as he said : "Let that go, Rose. It's dirty now. "
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Rest In Peace Uncle.