I had planned on beginning this week with posts talking about the importance of reading banned books.
This is after all Banned Books Week, and it began on Sunday.
Unfortunately, I woke up on Monday with a headache that would have been at home in a marching band, and ended up spending most of yesterday in bed. I also got some bad news that I will share below the cut, but it entails that I might not have as much internet as I’m used to as I travel and visit family. I’ll try to set up some of the week’s posts while I’m away from home, but if I fall off this week, I hope everyone will understand.
Early yesterday morning, I found out that my uncle died peacefully, in his sleep. He was 90, and was married to my aunt for 72 years. When I was 10, he and his family moved to Florida. He went into “retirement” and instead of growing older, he aged younger. The last time I visited was many, many years ago on a family trip to Disneyworld and I recall him being on roller skates. The things we do to keep up with our kids!
While his two older children were contemporaries of my mother’s, his two youngest, twins no less were one year older than me. We grew up in the same court in Queens, playing on the same sprawling lawn, running around the same trees. We were best friends and close. I probably spent as much time at their apartment as I did my own. I remember sitting at their dining table at the top of the stairs, listening to he and my aunt speak in Yiddish and us kids trying to translate what they obviously didn’t want us to hear. It was a sad day for them when my cousins could understand perfectly.
I remember dressing up and putting on shows for my uncle while my aunt was in their small kitchen.
For some reason I remember their bedroom closets. We must have spent lots of time in there getting out clothes to dress up in, and pulling out what seemed like tons of Barbies.
We remained close even after all of us moved our separate ways, they to Florida and my family east to Long Island.
I don’t like to pick favorites because all of my aunts and uncles are the most wonderful people I could ever know. Uncle Carl was special, though. He wasn’t just my uncle; he was my great uncle, and a GREAT uncle. He was my mother’s uncle; my grandmother’s only sibling. Growing up I didn’t realize that we were all a close-knit family. Every Saturday, we went to my Grandma (Dad’s Mom) in the Bronx, and on Sunday, we went to Grandma Sadie, my other grandma, Mom’s Mom, where my great-grandmother also lived. Because Bubbe lived with Grandma, and she was her mother as well as Uncle Carl’s, he also went to see her whenever he visited, so we were assured of seeing him.
My grandparents on my mother’s side each had only one sibling: Grandma and Uncle Carl, and Grandpa (who died when I was 5) and Aunt Sadie. He was my only great uncle on that side, and he always had fun with us, so it was easy for him to be the favorite uncle.
I still have a Sea World whale from one visit that broke open and the pellets inside kept falling out. My Uncle Carl repaired him; the whale still has his original Uncle Carl stitching.
On Facebook, my cousin posted pictures of her parents often. They saw them frequently, and shared those moments with the rest of the family on Facebook. I loved seeing them. Their picture always brought a smile to my face, and made me think about how much fun we had, and how wonderful he was as a person.
He was kind and generous, funny, and thoughtful, fun and special, compassionate with a fine sense of humor. I loved him like I love my own parents, and he will be surely, and sorely missed.