Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Rule of 3s
My uncle, middle, at 18 and my mom, in the red, at 16.
Ok, I haven't written in a long time, and the seeming law of nature I refer to in the title is why. In the past month, HUBS and I have had three family members die. This is the tribute post I kept meaning to write. Every time I seriously thought about publishing it, someone else died. So, now that we've gotten to the magic number...Here goes.
My uncle Jerry died one month ago today, Sunday, April 19 2009. He was 60 years old and had at least 32 health problems (more than anyone in the family knew about). He had been home one day from the physical therapy center he had been in for about a month after having a serious set of heart attacks back in February. The abiding feeling in the family is that he knew it was coming and wanted to die at home.
Things he did:
- When my mom was 5 he hid her from the police when she hit a boy in the head with a baseball bat and knocked the kid unconscious. Jerry was 7 at the time.
- Had mostly white and friends at a time when there wasn't a lot of mingling between black and white people.
- Would tell you not to mess up his hair.
- Sat me and my two cousins in our grandmother's easy chair back in the '70s (when all three of us could fit in one chair) and played his guitar for and sang. He left me his guitar.
- Was the requisite cranky, dirty-old-man uncle (even when he was young), who would still do anything for you.
- Told my aunt, during my parents divorce, "If he (my asshole father) makes that baby (my mom) cry one more time I'm going to kill him."
- Literally kept track of every cent he ever spent. When we descended upon his house to try locating his insurance papers, we found boxes and boxes filled with old ledgers, receipts and cancelled checks. How much did he pay for that Domino's pizza on December 3, 1990? Wait, what was the cost of those cigarettes on June 21, 1977 again?
- Didn't believe in owning things. He bought a new car about every three years, and whenever he got close to paying off his house he'd take out a new mortgage on it. To him, if you didn't own anything, nobody could really take anything away from you.
- Made the two hour drive to get me from college when I had my nervous breakdown. Bought me Burger King on the way home.
- Dated one woman for 27 years and helped raise her daughter from a previous marriage, but never married himself.
HUBS' grandmother died almost a week later on April 23, 2009. She was 92. She had Alzheimer's and had declined rapidly in the weeks leading up to her death.
Things she did:
- Was the requisite cool grandmother.
- Told HUBS dirty jokes when he was a kid.
- Survived The Depression, when her mom left her and a couple of her sisters in a children's home. Her mom took her sisters home eventually, but never came to get her.
- Vowed never to leave her kids for any reason.
- She reportedly had a "spaghetti dance" which included lots of hip shaking and arm waving while the noodles were cooking.
- Was game for camping and canooing.
- Helped her husband build two houses.
- Was quite spunky and fashionable in her day.
- Always waved and smiled at me while she was in the extended care home, even though she never knew who I was.
I should have made her tea cakes more often.
My godmother's mom died the Thursday before Mother's Day on May 7, 2009. She was 95. She was the 7th of 14 kids. Only three are left now.
Things she did:
- Mothered all of her younger siblings, without prompting from her parents.
- Wanted to be a nurse, but there wasn't enough money for her to continue her education at that level. Her daughter and one of her sisters each became nurses.
- Studied cosmetology and did the hair of the sick and shut in.
- Ran a store with her husband and daughter (my godmother, when she was a kid) called The Three Nichols (their last name), that my mom went to as a child long before she and my godmother were friends.
- Said "And that is that!" when she was done having a conversation with you.
- Hated the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Forever.
- Hot combed my hair a few times when I was little.
- Loved jewelry, but still parted with one of her gorgeous, pearl clustered, gold rings to give me for my high school graduation.
- When one of her younger brothers came home from college complaining about how hard it was and how he might quit, she gave him $5 and told him to take his butt back to school.
We miss you all.