My father's older brother died this evening. He was 92 and I loved him dearly. He will be buried in the cemetery in Greenup, IL, right next to my dad.
My father died when I was a teenager. We had visited his family a couple times a year, traveling to St. Louis in a station wagon packed full of my family. After my father passed, I still traveled to St Louis for the holidays, my younger brother and I took the greyhound bus from the D.C. area. My uncle was a tall man with little tolerance for teenage high jinx, and Jeff and I behaved ourselves in his home.
When I graduated college the economy was similar to how it is now..tough to find work for a gal with a degree in English Literature from Towson University. The world was not waiting for me, and I went from part time to full time in the warehouse I was employed in while attending Towson.
So I was making little money, paying rent..and began to wonder how in the world I was going to make it. And so I called my uncle. And asked him how I would ever be able to get ahead, buy a house, have children, make ends meet.
I asked and listened. Asked again and listened more as my life changed..married, became a mother, started working in the corporate world. Every step I would ask his opinion about work and investment situations. I listened and did my best to heed his advice. At the same time his life changed..he had served in the Navy in WWII and shipped out via San Diego, and almost 30 years ago moved there. And loved it. He worked as a project manager/engineer after graduating from college, worked for what became McDonnell-Douglass (now Boeing) and eventually retired from there.
And in retirement he had a couple of interests: a van filled with video equipment..he and his friend George traveled to Dixieland jazz festivals and taped many of the bands. And a tire shop that switched out tires and wheels for car dealers in the San Diego area.
He loved it. My uncle and my father had lives they loved, careers that they loved, family they loved, friends that held them dear. It is only fitting that the two will be at rest next to each other, surrounded by many generations of the Peters family. I don't get much to Greenup anymore, but I find it a comfort that when I do they will both be there.
In the last year I have come to realize how valuable in so many ways my uncle has been to me. I have always, without fail, known that he has been there for me. He regularly set chunks of his time aside to be with me. He encouraged, asked tough questions, called me on things I did not want called out, noticed things and gave compliments on my accomplishments..celebrated birthdays, weddings, my daughter..told me stories that made me snort drinks in my nose, told the worst jokes ever..in short, he demonstrated his love for decades by knowing me and the details of my life.
As I have reflected on him..this last year he has faded, allowing much time for reflection of my time with him..I have been struck by how many people have told me they had no such man in their lives. The guys in their families were just not stand up guys. And I realize, on another level, how lucky I am.
My sister saw him this summer, and I asked her to tell him that it was ok for him to pass on to what ever is next. That we would be alright without him. I meant it it when I said it, and I guess it is true. I guess we will be alright but I will certainly miss him. Godspeed Budd.
Prairie in Fall Reflection
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