My father is the oldest of his mother's five children. She had him when she was all of 15 years old. He has one brother and three sisters.
I was born when he was 20, so my grandmother became a grandmother at the ripe old age of 35. I'm the oldest of 15 grandchildren, and many of us have children of our own now.
My dad's second sister started dating her eventual husband when I was still a very little girl. Years later, my uncle would often tell stories of how I'd stare at the two of them as they sat on my grandmother's couch together. I'd just stand there, silent and staring. He'd finally say something to me, anything, to break the ice with this little toddler. My response? I'd holler, "I'm telling my daddy!" and run away.
My dad is big man, with the presence and stature of John Wayne.
This young man didn't want me telling my daddy anything! So, I scared him.
I grew up with this uncle around, though. They had five children, and we were all playmates. Their youngest daughter was the flower girl at my wedding. She's still very special to me.
You could describe my uncle as a redneck, and many have. Theirs was the house with the car on blocks in the front yard. I heard him talk about the troubles with the "Mesicans" at work. Not an uncommon pronunciation in their town in New Mexico. Incorrect, yes. Ignorant, probably. However, he's the first one to take up for you in times of trouble. When I got married, he told me that if that fella ever hurt me, he'd have to answer to my uncle. He'd take care of it for me. Rough, yes. And loving, in his own way.
Recent years have been hard. He and his youngest son (named for my father) have had to take construction jobs all over the country, away from their families. That's hard on a marriage. He and my aunt divorced recently, but still had a great love for each other.
He moved to Arizona, which I gather caused some hard feelings. But he came around. He moved back to where he would be close to his children and grandchildren. The other day, he even went to his youngest son's birthday party.
Last night, they gathered again. He left on his motorcycle.
My phone rang just before midnight.
It was my sister. Talking about a drunk driver.
My aunt got to the scene and held his hand while the paramedics worked on him.
He died at the hospital.
My uncle is gone.
Now, we remember. We memorialize.
And another soul's story is told.
12 hours ago