Phrembah (a potato-like mystery) (phrembah) wrote,
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)

So it goes . . .

My mom's oldest brother died early this morning.  He'd been in bad health for a while, but not too long, as terminal illnesses go.  He was 86 and suffered the obligatory panoply of "old people's complaints," but neither he nor my aunt were so bad off that they couldn't go fishing for a month in Montana or the Canadian Rockies two or three times a year and drive down from Salt Lake for Thanksgiving about every other year.

He was born during the Great Depression, but survived that.  As my mom puts it, "We were poor.  We were damn poor.  But we didn't know it because so was everybody else."   He flew B17 missions over Germany during the war, was shot down (had to bail out of a burning plane--yeah, that shit really happens) and spent about a year and a half in various German POW camps, but he survived that.  His group was addressed in person by George Patton, pearl handled revolvers and all, when they were liberated by Allied forces.

He and my aunt were civilian employees of the Air Force for thirty-odd years, but remained liberal Democrats all their lives.  They had four children, lost one in infancy, but survived that.  They ended up with something like ten grandchildren (I'm ashamed that I can't say exactly how many, seven that I can name) and most of the relatives--not just me--lost track of the great grandchildren a while back.

They retired comfortably and, besides the fishing trips, my uncle became deeply interested in photography, mostly landscapes an wildlife.  He won many awards for his photographs from local photography clubs and such.

He shared my grandfather's sense of humor.  A few days ago when the nurse asked him, "How do you feel?"  he said "With my hands."  It was one of the last things he said before he was too doped up to converse.

He was, like all of the folks in my mom's family, an eminently decent person, one of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" who did the right thing for the right reason pretty much all of the time.

His life was not without loss and pain, but it was a full one, a complete one, replete with most of the good things people hope and strive for.

He will be missed.
Tags: compelling chronicle

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