I am blessed with a large, extended family. My Mom had 8 brothers and 2 sisters, and my Dad had 3 brothers and 3 sisters (and two brothers that died during childhood). I have lots and lots of cousins! My Dad was the baby of his family, and my Mom was the third youngest in hers. I'm the youngest cousin on my Dad's side, and one of the youngest on my Mom's. I'm almost 41.
The one sad thing about having large families is that you have more deaths to go through. Right now I'm getting ready to lose a very special uncle. Uncle Albert is my dad's brother. My Dad passed away August 27, 2002. Uncle Albert was about 4 years older than Dad. He's now 86.
My uncle is a WWII veteran...a POW. He was a prisoner in Germany, and was there when the war ended. In recent years he has begun talking about his time in Germany, and I was blessed to have several conversations with him about it. I still cannot imagine what my Grandma went through when she heard that her son was missing in action. She also had another son that was shot in WWII, and he also came home alive.
Growing up I lived about 45 minutes away from my aunt and uncle. We spent Sunday afternoons with them at least once a month. We usually spent Christmas with them...if not Christmas day then we'd spend another day close to Christmas with them. We have lots of pictures of tables piled high with food, and pictures of us having our gift exchange.
One summer I spent a week at their house. They lived out in the country next to a river. One day I decided I wanted to fish from the bridge. They gave me a fishing pole and some bait. The bad thing was that I didn't want to touch the worms! Uncle Albert would put the worm on and I'd walk to the bridge and fish. The fish would eat my worm, and then I'd go back to their house and Uncle Albert would put another worm on for me. This went on for a while until I got tired of walking back and forth. Or maybe they got tired of putting worms on! :o)
They also had an apple orchard and a big red barn. Maybe that's where my love of barns came from.
When I think of Uncle Albert, these are some of the things that come to mind:
* shooting pool
* watching home movies on his reel to reel machine
* his garden
* his dogs
* his slow smile (or, as his daughter, Lynnette, called it earlier, his Elvis smile)
* his mustache (I was scared of him when I was little and I think it was the mustache :o)
* having Parkinson's but never giving up
* crossword puzzles
* looking for sharks teeth at Myrtle Beach
* his short, but sweet message on my wedding video
* getting the balloons for my wedding
* going to an Amish nursery and giving me directions in German (telling me when to turn right and left)
* a soft voice that I had to strain to hear at times, but I wanted to hear what he had to tell me because he didn't talk a lot and I knew it would be worth listening to.
* a wife whose name is only one letter different than his...Alberta (I love you!)
* playing Aggravation on his homemade game board
* looking at his momentos from WW2
* The Bedford Boys
* Playing Putt-Putt in MB
* Eating at The Hut, Bob Evans, and K & W
* all of his beautiful wood working projects
* And many, many more.
Even though it's been sad through the years to see the older generation leave us, I wouldn't trade having a big family for anything in this world! It's worth all the tears from saying good bye, because we had many more tears of laughter through the years. Uncle Albert and my Aunt Clara are the only remaining siblings on my dad's side of the family. On my Mom's side, out of the 11, there are five left...the three girls and two of the boys. I love my family, and I thank God for allowing me so many happy years with them!
I'll miss you, Uncle Albert, and I love you! You are very special to me!