Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Uncle Fred

My Uncle Fred passed away quietly on Sunday. He was 90, going on 18. He was living proof that you had to grow old, but you didn't have to grow up.
He never married, had no kids. But what he did have was a whole bunch of adoring nieces and nephews. There were seven of us Warrens, and five Glahes, who thought the world of him. He was always up for a little wrestling or a piggy-back ride. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. He was an even tempered man, the salt of the earth.
He stayed on the farm with Grandfather and Grandmother, then later with my family after the Grandparents passed on. For most of those years the farm was a dairy farm. The pace of the work was as steady as a metronome. He was a little hard of hearing, so he had one of those old Big Ben Alarm Clocks. You could hear it ticking from clear upstairs. It went off at precisely the same time every day. Rain, shine, blizzard or Christmas. Twice a day milking. he seemed as much a part of the place as the fields and barn. When we finally got out of the dairy business, he took a couple of days off. He remarked that it was the first time he had been off of the place for more than a few hours in forty years.
He was the most honest person I have ever known. I would have trusted him to keep safe anything left in his care. The down side of that innocence and trust is that he believed that everyone else was just as honest as he was, which made him a very bad businessman. I remember my dad having to take some critter back that one our less honest neighbors had sold him and get our money back.
He taught me how to Trout fish in the high country mountain streams. For quite an number of years I was his fishing partner. We fished with spinner and worm, and were of about equal skill, which was considerably above average. We seldom got skunked, even in August then the water was low and warm and the fish inactive.
When I last saw him last April, he asked me to go fish the home waters for him, as he couldn't do it. As we were having a Family "Meeting of the Cousins" in August I assured him I would.
Mrs A had never gone stream fishing, so I took a few minutes before we got down to it and showed her how to do it, just like Uncle Fred had done for me so many years before. Of course she caught the first fish. We brought home a couple of keepers from Deep Creek, and I went to Sand Creek and picked up a couple of Brookies. At Mrs A's suggestion I gave them to my cousin Ginger to take back to Oregon so she could fry them up for Uncle Fred.
When he retired from farming, much to every ones astonishment, he joined the Peace Corps. He was stationed first in Dominica, and then in Morocco, teaching large animal husbandry. He had a bad knee, the result of having been kicked one too many times by a recalcitrant milk cow, and eventually it led him to leave the Peace corps.
He took his cut from the sale of the farm and bought a small place in Oregon near Eugene, where he lived with his sister my Aunt Rose, and some of my cousins.
He seemed indestructible, but finally he came down with diabetes. Never the best a taking care of himself, he neglected his health and it eventually let to the amputation of one of his lower legs. He never really recovered. Last spring they discovered he had inoperable bone cancer.
He slowly slid into poorer condition, and was being given morphine for the pain.
He is now in a place where there is no pain.
We have all been trading Uncle Fred stories for the last couple of days, and it is a real testament to the man that each of us has a special memory of the man.
So long, Uncle Fred, you were and are loved. We'll all be coming to join you sooner or later.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Still here

So I guess the world did not come to an end. Or maybe it has and we just weren't aware. At any rate we are at the beginning of another cycle of the Mayan Calendar. Maybe the psychic flux has reversed it's modulation or some such, but I can't tell the difference.
On the emotional scale of the holidays, I tend more toward the Scrooge end of the scale than the Tiny Tim end. Too much emotional stuff, too many expectations, too much hype.
When I went off to work on Wednesday, as I left I told Mrs A "I'm glad the Holidays are over and life can return to normal". Or what passes for normal.
My nephew and his wife brought a brand new person into the world on January. My first grand niece. Welcome to the big blue marble Charlotte Irene. May your days be filled with wonder and love.
R is out there scamming anyone who will listen to her lies, especially family, who have become enablers rather than supporters. Oh well, I have no control over anyone's behavior but my own, and sometimes barely that.
My sweetie bought me a reproduction 1928 Thompson sub machine gun (fully automatic) with the big circular drum. A very well made reproduction. Before you call in the ATF, let me say that it is an airsoft gun, and shoots 6mm plastic pellets. But it is still cathartic to go down in the basement and put it on full auto and squeeze off a few rounds. Political posters of your choice available.
It was really nice seeing family over the Holidays. Unfortunately the Matriarch of the family came down with the flu right before Christmas and was still under the weather on New Years Day. This is a very unusual occurrence. She NEVER gets the flu. Well, almost never. Raising seven kids has given her  immunity to just about every disease known to man. Get better Ma.
I already quit smoking. Had to give up drinking beer because it made my stomach hurt, lost the 15 lbs I wanted to lose. It's disgusting, it's like I've become A GROWN-UP!. The shame of it all. I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but the plans for 2013 are all positive. I've already booked at The Lake Quinault Lodge for the tenth anniversary of my proposing to Mrs A. Tenth Wedding Anniversary to follow in April. I want to get the Z up to snuff, repainted and sold this year, money to go towards finishing up Frankenhealey. Continues upgrades to the Westie. I put VW LT Truck mirrors on it over the Holidays. No more Floppy mirror syndrome!
So I hope everyone out there had a good Holiday season. Pull up your jeans, sholder your burdens and get on with it. We're all in the same boat.