Monday, January 5, 2015

More Sad News

My uncle passed away.

He's the first of his generation to pass in my family (I only just lost my last grandparent about a year ago), and when death hits that generation, it's the sort of thing that makes you take a good long look at your parents' mortality.  It's like Death is standing over there in the distance, reminding you to cherish the time you have.

But, more importantly, there's the fact that the man himself passed away.  He was a good guy; I genuinely liked him.  He loved his wife and kids, doted on his grandkids, and had a special relationship with the family dog.  He was one of the first of my relatives to treat me as an adult, which I appreciated; but he also treated me like an adult with whom you could sneak a late night pudding pop from the freezer, which I appreciated even more.  Every time our extended family would get together, our little family unit would vote on the "favorite relative award" in the car on the way back to the airport.  Uncle Stanley won favorite relative so many times, we pretty much gave it to him on a lifetime achievement basis.

He was a photographer.  If there's a picture of my family all grouped together in front of a fireplace, or a bunch of extended family piled on a sectional sofa, Stanley took it.  (And he always saved a little spot for himself, so he could jump in the picture when the timer went off.  Once, he even tried to get into a panoramic shot once on each end.)  He also took my very favoritest picture of me at my law school graduation.  (Of course he came, even though it was several states away.)

Stanley always had time for family.  One year, for a special birthday present for my father, we gave him a "fighter pilot" experience, where he goes up in a plane and shoots lasers at the opposing plane.  Stanley flew out to Vegas to be my father's surprise opponent.  So, the two of them go up in their planes while the rest of us are having a cup of coffee in the teensy weensy airport, waiting for them to get back.  They get out of their planes, and we ask "Who won?"  Stanley, proudly showing us his air sickness container, said, "The bag won."

I hate that he's gone.  I hate that there won't be any more memories to be made with him.  But I take comfort in the fact that he lives on in his kids and his grandkids -- and is probably goofing around with his dog right now.

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