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Random thoughts from a woman in love

I went to a memorial service yesterday for my Uncle Chuck. He’s not really my uncle, but he is.  I’ve known him for 43 years, during which time he has been my second dad, the great maker of Mickey Mouse Chocolate Chip pancakes and the man from whom I inherited my passion for all things BASEBALL (despite his misguided love for the American League and THAT Oakland team that won the World Series in 1989…damn them!)  He introduced me to the wonderful bands of the 40′ and 50’s and showed me how much fun it could be to dance to the “old” stuff.  He also taught me that you need to expect and welcome happiness every day, otherwise it would feel unwelcome and leave with someone else.

Uncle Chuckles had a booming voice and a wonderfully contagious laugh.  He was always so happy.  Madly in love with Aunt Lee and their 3 girls.   I loved the way he looked at Aunt Lee – a blend of adoration, happiness and passion.  They were married for over 50 years.   His daughters are my best friends.  We refer to each other as sisters, and, after all these years, still get together to talk and giggle all night long, lounging around in pajamas and listening to music (the only difference is our beverage of choice these days is a good Cabernet Sauvignon rather than Coca Cola, and, sadly, we don’t listen to Jethro Tull or Bruce Springsteen very often anymore).

The last time I saw Uncle Chuck was this last Christmas Eve.  He was walking around his house, hooked up to an oxygen tank, dragging an oxygen hose around with him while he cuddled his little poodle, Beau, in his arms.  “You look so happy, Dolly!”, he said to me when we hugged.   I introduced him to the love of my life, and he whispered to me, “Oh – Now I know why you look happy.  I like him –  Look at the way he looks at you.”  I whispered back that Steve looks at me the way HE looks at Aunt Lee, and he chuckled. “Yup – he must know you are the perfect woman just like Leelee!  He’s a keeper, Dolly.  You deserve it – say hello to happiness.”

We didn’t chat much after that because, as usual, there were dozens of people in the house waiting for his hug .  He settled down in the big chair in the living room, and folks gravitated to him throughout the night.  He was in such great spirits.  He was surrounded by good friends and the women he loved and adored.  As was  his way, he chose to say hello to happiness rather than allow self-pity for his health or regret for things he couldn’t do anymore creep in through the window.

I heard his laugh all night – sometimes a chuckle, sometimes a roar of laughter at something his grandkids were doing.  It was such lovely music.  I can close my eyes now and hear him laughing.  There was not one tear shed at his memorial service.   Instead, the house rang with the laughter of over 50 people celebrating his life and sharing stories about him as they drank wine, ate pasta and basked in the love we could still feel from him.  That is what he wanted.   “Hello Happiness! Come on in!”


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