Friday, April 6, 2012
wearing my uncle's sweater
You've heard of last man standing. Karen and I are going visit the last aunt standing in Connecticut this Sunday. She will be 89 and lives on a mountain in New Milford that is modestly called Second Hill(First Hill must really be some mountain) The house is large and sits on 10 acres. My late Uncle Harold would not like the fact that he has neighbors now. He loved the wilderness, camping, fishing,hunting, firing ranges. For a year and a half while my mother finished up Chiropractic college in Iowa my brother and I lived with them. They had no children and all the other aunts and uncles did, so they were the logical choice and they would have been the logical choice of my brother and I. We learned to swim, roam the woods, work on houses he would build in the summertime. We also learned that people ate three meals a day actually sitting at a table together. They were a couple of opposites my aunt and uncle. She read movie mags and the National Enquirer-he read the Great Books and listened to opera and classical music. She was a Catholic who did and still does go to church every Sunday. He never went to church until late in life when he had a near death experience on the operating table. Then he began reading the Bible and posting signs in his workshop basement reminding him not to swear.He was what is called a man's man and I looked up to him because he was the closest I would get to having a real father. He taught us how to play chess and encouraged riding on toboggans down huge hills at a hundred miles an hour. He would buy me cheeseburgers for breakfast when we went to work and he stopped for coffee. I probably was a disappointment in that I almost strangled myself learning how to fish, I wouldn't fire a gun. I did go hunting with him and fishing on Long Island Sound and generally liked being with him. He died of cancer some years ago at home on the big mountain taken care of by my aunt. Shocking to see this larger than life figure reduced to skin and bones physically and mentally. I inherited the sweater my aunt made him. Heavy soft wool with pictures of wildlife. I was way to big to ever wear it. Now I'm small enough physically and mentally to put it on and keep it on.