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He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle

Plenty of what I write references my Mom. She's my sHero. And more than plenty of my decisions and actions are directly influenced by what I think she would expect/want/be proud of.
This post isn't exactly about her, but in a round about way it is.

The true subject of today's random and pressing post is my uncle, Alvin Beck, my mother's oldest brother. Found him dead in his basement this morning. That's so raw and ugly a thing to say, but it's the truth. And after arrangements are made, phone calls placed and news broken, where do I turn? My friends and loved ones.... and the internet. I think that's because so much of how I process things is by forcing them into making sense through the written word. It makes things manageable and real and tangible. Anyhoooo.... I just want to share some things about my uncle.

First of all, in his last few years, Al became somewhat of an eccentric oddball. He gave in somewhat to the pressures of the world. But when I was a kid, he was "Uncle Al, the kiddies pal!"

He was the proverbial favorite uncle. He was the one who played all the musical instruments (guitar, banjo, mandolin, trombone, trumpet, keyboard, fiddle). He was the one who bought a house that had a small renter's cottage on the back lot... specifically for use as a playhouse for his nieces and nephews. He was the one that took us mushroom hunting, rock climbing, fishing, and to the dime store with $5 each to buy whatever we wanted (and let me tell you, at the dime store in the early 70's, $5 was a small fortune when whatever we wanted was usually penny candy and maybe a Barbie doll).

He and my Aunt Carol didn't have any kids of their own, so my brother, cousins and I always made the grand haul for birthdays and Christmas. They always fixed us the bomb-ass Easter baskets and organized the ultimate in Easter egg hunts. There were cookouts almost every weekend of every summer with the juciest chicken and burgers, hotdogs done just right, all the trimmings and inevitably homemade ice cream with fresh strawberries to top it all off.

He was there for all the milestones of my life. Birthdays, Confirmation, graduations, proms and homecomings... there was Uncle Al with his camera, documenting it all. There is photographic proof of every jacked up outfit, every unfortunate hair style, and poor makeup choice I ever made thanks to him! When I got my first apartment, he furnished it for me.... and I mean bed, bedding, table and chairs, armchair, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, towels, cleaning supplies... the whole set up!

Everything I ever did in my life, he was somewhere in the picture. Even if he didn't approve of what it was I was doing, he was still there, just like my mom was, waiting for me to find my way back to the right path. He had faith in me like that, ya know, that I would find my way back. "You're a smart, girl, Amy. You'll work it out." He never really told me, "Hey, you're messin' up here, kid," but his disapproval could be almost palpable. It must have been a familial talent, because Mom was like that too. Didn't hafta say a word, but you knew, absolutely knew, without a doubt that they were disappointed in you. And you had best t' fix it!!

Like I said, in later years, life pressed down on him like a stone, and it took its toll. So, in a way, I know that, for him, death is probably a sweet release from it all. And I guess a huge part of my sadness today is that I didn't say "Thank you" enough. I really try not to live in regret as a general rule for life, but that is something I can say that I do regret. The time to have said all the things I should have has passed with him. I have long missed the Uncle Al who played such a role in my becoming who I am. Now I mourn the loss of the opportunity to let him know that I appreciate him for that.

So today, I imagine the following scene in Heaven. It's the kitchen at my Gramma's. Mom's fixing Gramma's hair, there's a roast with carrots and potatoes in the oven, sweet tea chilling in the fridge, homemade icecream in the freezer and Uncle Al playing guitar and singing while Mom and Gramma gossip about the family and people in church. It's a scene that played out plenty of times in real life, and dammit, I wish I could have it one last time.

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Blogger littlepretendnurse said...

So sorry to hear this Miss Amy. Prayers out for you and yours.

August 4, 2009 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Luvvie said...

OH AMY! I'm SO sorry to hear about your loss! *HUGE HUG* There isn't much else to say but you are in my thoughts. *HUGS AGAIN*

August 6, 2009 at 12:17 AM  
Blogger NaturallyAlise said...

Beautiful tribute to your uncle. I think he knows how much you think of him and appreciate him.

August 6, 2009 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger amymay said...

Thanks for the love and support! I feel it!

August 6, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

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