Sunday, February 15, 2009

An Old Guy's Random Rememberings #13?


Friday evening, I received a "family list" email from my cousin. I love her, but we can often disagree violently.....we have completely different views about a number of things, and of course, I'm the one that's right.....aren't I? I immediately responded to her whole list in a contrary manner, and we've had some jovial communications since then. I hope that we'll be able to have more in the future.

I was all prepared to post an old remembrance of my dad today, but I think I'll let it wait until tomorrow. My urge to post that memory of my dad was inspired by the email from my cousin, but this is about her dad, another of my life's heroes.


When I arrived home Friday evening after an exceptionally tiring day, I was greeted by a handwritten phone message announcing services on Sunday for my Uncle Vernon. I suppose this seems pretty insignificant in the overall picture of happenings recently in New York City, but it’s a sad moment in my life.

The first time I remember seeing my Aunt Pearl’s husband, I was eight, my dad was away in the Navy, and I was sitting on the front steps with my bicycle and a bumper jack, having no idea how one should go about fixing a flat tire on a bicycle. Shortly after going inside to greet my mother, this good looking stranger in army uniform came out and started helping me to fix the flat tire. From that day on, I was always able to do it myself.

A few years later, when I was about twelve, we met Uncle Vernon and Aunt Pearl, along with my cousins Lanier and Bert, in Columbus, TX.

While Aunt Pearl and the kids went with my folks to Bay City for a visit, Uncle Vernon and I rode in his ‘36 Ford to Austin, making the trip in very little more than an hour. Uncle Vernon could really make a car go!!!! He was building a new house, and I was going to help for a whole week. It was one of the best weeks in my life. I met many of his numerous cousins, most of whom called him Bud. I worked side by side with his Uncle Bradley, one of Uncle Vernon’s survivors, whom I saw at the service.

When I was little, I was sure that Uncle Vernon was the smartest man in the world. As I learned more, I realized that he occasionally could be wrong, but he expressed his thoughts with such assurance that you could almost believe that maybe it was the laws of nature that could be erroneous, not Uncle Vernon.

Uncle Vernon had a speedboat, which led me often, as a youngster, to dream that he surely must also have an airplane, and sometimes I’d ride throughout my dreams suspended in a chair below his airplane, skimming the treetops. It was also about this time that I thought I could rig a bicycle to fly, so bear with me, OK???

Several years ago, Uncle Vernon suffered a serious stroke following surgery, and was partially paralyzed and unable to speak clearly from then on. I will always remember the light that came into his eyes whenever we would meet, and the real pleasure he found in seeing his friends and relatives, although he was obviously frustrated by his difficulty.

At his memorial service, there were several heartwarming quips about the “cute” things he accomplished in his later years, and they brought joy to those who heard them, but let’s never forget the whole man who was forced by circumstances to dwell inside that diminished body.

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