A Tale of Four Uncles

This time last month, I had four uncles (I think... more on that in a moment).  At the risk of sounding careless, I've since lost two of them.

When I was born, I had three uncles: two were my mother's brothers, one was married to my aunt.  My aunt divorced and remarried, and that's where some of the confusion is.  You see, she (and my parents) were clear that her first husband was no longer my uncle, while my cousins were quite certain that their father still was - and that her second husband was not.  Let's say everyone's right and that I ultimately had four.  All of whom were living as of mid-October.

One, The-Uncle-Formerly-Known-As-Anchesis, was in hospice and wasn't expected to live much longer.  My mother's other brother is still with us, relatively healthy.  My aunt's first husband has just died, and her second is alive, married for the fourth time.  Of the four of them, I knew Robert best and will miss him most.  The most recently departed was a man I'd not seen to speak to since the mid-80s, and hadn't seen at all since my aunt's funeral in the 1990s; I haven't seen her second husband since a few years after the funeral, nor do I want to.  She had bad taste in men, sadly, and while the first made a happy second marriage, the second was (and remains) a complete creep.

We all have those relatives who cause us to roll our eyes: the second cousin who says indiscreet things at the Thanksgiving table, the uncle who hugs his nieces a little too closely and for a little too long, the aunt who kisses and then needs to scrub your face to rid it of the nice lipstick marks.  There are the ones who try to dictate how you live your life, the ones who are such know-it-alls that they brook no discussion of ideas contrary to their own, and the ones who are so meek that they barely make an impression except to apologize for existing.  I've got all those and more in my family - and I feel very blessed to have had at least one uncle who was truly a wonderful man, friend and relative, embodying none of those traits. (since this is about my uncles, i won't comment on my aunts here)

This morning, following Meeting, we're having a Simple Lunch around the theme of gratitude for friends, family, health, hearth.  I'll be thinking of my loss and of the family they've left behind.  I'll also be thinking of the remaining two uncles, trying to come to peace with their failings as uncles and lack of meaning in my life.

1 comment:

Chuck Miller said...

God rest the souls of your uncles and of those to whom you hold dear. You're right, it is difficult to reconcile how other family members see each other against how you see your own.

And as for whether uncles should still be uncles if they are no longer part of your family, it's my belief that "uncle" and "aunt" are terms of respect as much as they are terms of familial hierarchy.