Thursday, July 22, 2010
“Let’s Go West!”
I have often said over the years to my children while passing the tollway sign near our house that reads “East to Chicago/West to Iowa”.
Iowa is where we vacation.
For a vacation?
But it wasn’t the state that enticed us to make the 10 hour round trip, it was the people.
Specifically my Aunt Jean, Uncle Jim and their two children (now adults), David and Lisa.
I was just 16 years-old when my best friend, Carol and I boarded a Trailways’ bus in downtown Chicago and headed west, announced in their local paper that we were there, we were treated to stock car races, pizza, movies and had a blast playing in one of their never changing parks (nice pose from the 70's C.D.!)...
I was in love.
That love led me back, even taking my own kids to that same park...
Made to feel so welcome, why would I not want to go back, over and over and over again?
We have gone for birthdays...
and it was in their small town in central Iowa that I was taught to hand feed cows and was not ridiculed (at least not out loud) for having big dorky glasses and badly cut hair.
My children and I felt right at home in Aunt Jean and Uncle Jim's house, although pretty small...
it was filled with fun, food and family!
And a big part of that fun was my Uncle Jim.
A Navy guy, who was sometimes grumbly on the outside, but inside, he was stuffed with fluff.
He was old school.
He reminded me of my father and thus made me feel safe.
He gave my son his first ride in the back of a pick up truck (unknown to me prior to its happening and LOVED by PJ!).
He taught me how to tie my running shoes, so when Aunt Jean and I ran the Bix 7, they NEVER came untied…
He loved my Momma’s cake...
and hated my Aunt Jean’s coffee...
He loved camping and classic cars.
He was a jokester, who would repeat a joke in a way that at first you would think he was telling you a true story.
He also awed many a youngster with his “missing thumb” trick.
And I will never forget the morning he woke us all up early by BLASTING music from the stereo downstairs.
That great guy...
my Uncle Jim...
passed away this week.
Finally succumbing to the fight...
a hard, hard fought fight that lasted many years.
During his last days, I knew what my Aunt Jean and family were going thru, having been there alongside my father 9 years ago - only prayers and kind words could be said.
Uncle Jim was a man with many, many good qualities, but what he was great at was adoring his wife, loving his children and cherishing his three granddaughters.
To them I give this tribute, tears and my love.
a lot of