My Favorite of Uncles
I’d never attended a graveside military funeral before. I’m not foreign to burying loved ones, that’s a part of living. Aunts, uncles, friends, my mother-in-law, my best friend’s son—I’ve said farewell to many. Yet this was different. My favorite of uncles.
|Crazy handsome Marine! |
Not that I’m biased or anything…
Uncle Bud, Virgil if you check his birth certificate, joined the Marines and served during the Vietnam war. Electronics fascinated him and became his field of interest. When he returned home he opened a repair shop in Michigan and settled into family life in Michigan.
Jarts in the grassy field behind my Aunt Lauretta’s home, Thanksgiving pig-outs, and summers at the lake flooded my mind as our procession wound through the military graves. I closed my eyes, and reflected on Uncle Bud as the bells tolled noon at the cemetery.
Present Arms. Uncle Bud, remember when you tried to convince me the Tootsie Roll man existed? And when I excitedly went to find what he’d left behind, it was not candy but puppy poo by the backdoor on the linoleum?
Rifle Volley. Remember when you paid $100 to dance with me at my wedding? You whispered how proud you were of me and reinforced the well-known truth that Mike “married up.” We laughed. You tried not to step on my toes. Next in line, waiting to dance with me, was Grandpa Herrick wearing his little red chapeau. Was he first to greet you at the pearly gates? Maybe your mom?
Taps. Remember the summers when you and Aunt Penny lived on the lake? When Joyce (Uncle Bud’s daughter) and I were pee-you-pants scared to jump off the high dive? You told us to close our eyes, count to three, then jump. You gave us a big old shove off the end when we reached, “two” and plunged into the frigid water. Not cool.
|Uncle Bud with his children, Joyce and Robert, |
and two of this three grandchildren.
American flag presented to my aunt. Remember when we flew out to watch Purdue play in the Rose Bowl in 2000? I’m not sure what was funnier during our time in Studio City, California. How much Aunt Barb hated seeing “Castaway” or your visceral reaction to seeing the giant meatballs at Buca di Peppo for the first time. It’s a tossup to this day.
Chaplain spoke. Remember how just three weeks ago you were at my house? Mom and Aunt Barb played marathon Scrabble games while you bonded with Ryan over his crazy Skittles socks. Do you know he’s wearing them today? Just for you? Why didn’t you tell us you felt bad that weekend? That you had heartburn, which was truly an aftereffect of a heart attack? I wish you would’ve said something. Anything.
Gracie nuzzled into my wool coat, crying. Remember when you dressed up as Santa during the 1970’s family Christmas gatherings? You tossed baby powder into your beard and filled out the roomy, red-velvet jacket with pillows. A black trash bag containing gifts slung over your shoulder. You told my five-year-old self it wasn’t you. You almost had me fooled. Almost.
It’s so hard to say goodbye, isn’t it? To someone who means so much to you; to others. Yet it’s a part of this life we live. Just as eating potato salad and swapping memories are afterwards. The reuniting of loved ones and introductions with strangers aplenty. The feeling like your loved one is going to walk in the room at any minute and this is all just a dream; a bad joke. Is that just me?
Thank you for letting me share this with you all. It’s a little deep compared to what I usually write, I know. Yet if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a plethora of times, CLC is one big family I’m proud to be a part of. So, it was about time you all met Uncle Bud. What a guy, right?
Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt. In September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at Twitter, Facebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.