Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Uncle Joe

My Uncle Joe passed away last week, after being diagnosed with cancer, barely a month prior. No one expects a man in his 60s to be taken so suddenly, and it's truly shocking that he's gone.
Aunt Janice, Uncle Joe, & me. (St. Louis, late 1970s.)

Every Christmas, lots of Thanksgivings, on Memorial Day weekend trips to the family cemetery in Boss, MO, and Easter/Bay Family reunions, Uncle Joe was there.

Generally speaking, Uncle Joe always seemed quiet and reserved, to me. I remember being at Grandma & Grandpa's and the phone would ring...'that must be Joe,' my Grandpa would say. He called every day, but barely said 10 words. I never heard Uncle Joe speak of anything personal, but he always asked how I was doing, and always squeezed me with a hug as my family and I head out.

More often than not, on these occasions, Uncle Joe would slip in a joke. Mom always said that for someone who didn't communicate affection well, that was 'his way.' I remember, maybe when I was 11 years old, he would ask if he needed to get me a bra for Christmas (mortifying!). About 8 or 9 years ago, in the middle of the Thanksgiving prayer, his prayer of thanks included a prayer for me...that 'God please help her...we're awfully worried...we don't know why she put that earring in her nose.' And when I brought Chris to a family reunion to meet my extended family, he asked Chris if the balloons popping made him feel at home..."since you must hear gunshots all the time, living in New York City." The man definitely left an impression.

A few hundred people came through Uncle Joe's visitation and funeral last week. His life touched many people--more than many of us had imagined. A blessing that his suffering has ended, but such a loss to those left behind. (obituary)