We will miss you, Uncle Jim.

Don’t be disappointed in me–  I haven’t gone to the thrift store in weeks, so I have no scores to share, and I *still* haven’t gotten that bathroom wall paint (no Hell or high water stopped me, either).

Its been a sad little week here for me.   My Uncle Jim passed away this Sunday morning, after a heart attack.  Jim would have been married to my Aunt Lola for fifty-three years this April 30th (which also happens to be mine and Pan’s 8 year anniversary).  He has always been such a positive constant in all our lives.  My Mother’s upbringing was tough– having been orphaned younger than 2 years old– and the relationship Mom witnessed between her older sister and her new Californian husband was one of the few loving marriages my mother had ever been around.  It was because of Uncle Jim that my Mother even went to California, where she met my father and HER loving husband of 39 years.  (What if Uncle Jim had been from Maine?  Would I even BE here?!)

Uncle Jim

Uncle Jim, “loving you” in ’58

He was a handsome young man, wasn’t he?  I don’t know who added the “Loving you,” scrawl on the pic, but it isn’t my Mom’s handwriting.  (I photographed all of these pictures from my mother’s photo albums.)  The ‘loving you’ actually cracks me up… he was such a *quiet* man.  I’m struggling for the words… he wasn’t “aloof,” in that he didn’t distance himself at all, it was more that he was reserved, or… wallflowery?  My family is absolutely filled with gregarious characters, and he played a more ‘tech’ or backstage role in our family theatre.

That’s not to say that I didn’t see his personality over the years, if anything he was constant.  Even-keeled, never angry.  Extremely reliable.  Tolerant.  Hardworking to the point of physical pain.  (Family legend tells of the time he lost a finger while mowing the field in front of his house– he was more concerned with finishing the plot than getting to the hospital!)  Surprisingly funny and goofy.  Always– *always* carrying the ubiquitous cup of hot, black coffee.

He always let us easily into his world.  Over the half-decade of their marriage, they took in so many wandering souls.  The greatest examples of this being D & T, two teens that were unwanted after their parents divorced in the 70’s…. Can you imagine that?  Your friends getting a divorce and *neither* of the biological parents wanting custody?  Instead of fighting for them, they abandoned them…  Lola and Jim were the ‘best friends’ of these dueling parents, and seeing their baffling behavior, took the teens in themselves.  Dumped the adults and kept their kids– slotting them perfectly into their home life and giving them the same benefits of their own two teenagers.  To this day, D considers their farm to be “home,” and both visit on holidays if they can.  All this is to say– he never was put out or annoyed at these added people in his life (and they are just examples), in fact he worked harder and sacrificed more to allow his extended family moments of normalcy.  Always.

Candid at the Dinner Table-- Jim, Lola, and Jamie

Candid at the Dinner Table– Jim, Lola, and Jamie

I’d be willing to agree that it’s kind of mean for me to be posting this candid pic of them at the dinner table, but I love this shot so much.  Aunt Lola has always made the most *superb* food, and all of our life events have been scented with heavenly Southern, ladies-of-church style cooking.  Coca-Cola glazed hams, sliced garden tomatoes, green beans cooked in pork fat for so long that they actually become more like “grey bean shards,” and smooth, buttery potatoes.  (If these words to not conjure images of delicious dishes to your mind, then you are in serious need for a trip to the South.  I’ll have a guest room soon!)  I included it here, because I could not count the amount of times I have sat at a table much like this one, set with similar foods and the same people.  (Although older– I was not around yet when this photo was taken.)  This photo is like a black-and-white chunk of my LIFE.

This Christmas I was fortunate enough to sit and eat with my Uncle Jim, one last time.  We were at a tiny card table with his two youngest granddaughters, and their conversation was so inside jokey that we ‘adults’ were just eating quietly.  After a lengthy pause, Jim mentioned my husband’s recent kidney stone issues.  I told him that Pan had a sonic blast scheduled for the following week, and that we were looking forward to some pain resolution for him.  Uncle Jim then told me about how his kidney stone had saved his life.  Twenty years previous, he had been having similar problems to Pan’s and went to the doc about it.  X-rays showed that Jim had kidney stones, but even more so, they showed he had an aneurysm– and it was on the move.  Surgery was able to remove the blood clot and stave off the stroke.  We got another twenty years of Jim….

Rest in peace, man, you deserve it.

(I pour my hot, black coffee onto the ground.)

Jan 23, 2013 | Category: Just A Thought | Comments: none


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