My Uncle Don
It seems to me that my Uncle Don grew up as the
peace-maker, the leavening factor, in the midst of a large household of sometimes contentious siblings — all sisters — plus a bombastic mother and an understated father who more than anything else wanted quiet. So it’s no wonder that Don, a warm, smiling, athletic guy, was drawn to my dad as the husband of his closest sister. After all, my dad may have been the most laid-back guy on the planet and always ready for an outing to the rugged Oregon coast or a fishing trip on some pristine Eastern Oregon lake.
And then came WW II, where my Uncle Don made headlines with a unique shower he rigged on the back of a truck for his water-deprived Army buddies. And when he came home from the war, I was smitten with this handsome guy, the first man in a uniform I ever saw and who talked to me like I was a real person — although I was only 11.
But from then on I didn’t see much of him, just big holiday gatherings at my grandmother’s. And after she passed that ended. So it had been years since I’d seen him when we spoke at my dad’s memorial in ’04. But he showed the same warm feelings as ever. And then he phoned me a couple years ago and we had a marvelous conversation — he reminisced about me as a kid and about my mom and dad. He even told me how much they and I had meant to him throughout his life.
Bottom line, I loved my Uncle Don! And I’m so glad I got to see him one last time. At Christmas, when at 90 he couldn’t talk much, he still looked like Don and had Don’s infectious laugh and that was precious!