I didn’t know him

Last week, Mr. Alice’s uncle passed away. (That’s the fourth in his family since November.)

I barely knew Uncle N. He was frequently ill, and when he did come to family gatherings such as Thanksgiving, he sat in an easy chair and napped.

I found out at the funeral home that he was a Master Mason, and I was there while they performed their ceremony for him. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. (It did, however, remind me of my sorority initiation years ago.)

I never met his children, who were estranged from him for forty years.

I never knew that he had been a locomotive engineer back in the days of steam.

I didn’t know that he had model trains, and I was not aware that he was a brilliant woodworker. (They had this clock on display, along with some other things that he had created, that would have looked comfortable in any mansion.)

One family member recalled that he always took the time to patiently and thoroughly answer any question put to him by a child. Another remembered only that he was a real mean son of a bitch before he became ill.

During the service, the minister made it a point to not how he “allowed [his wife] to do things outside of the home, to be involved in the community] and I had to raise an eyebrow at that.

It reminded me of all the funerals I’ve been to, all those I’ve lost. But it also reminded me that everyone has a story and things about them that you might not know.

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5 Responses to “I didn’t know him”

  1. My commiserations, especially to Mr Alice.

    My Grandfather also worked on the railways in the age of steam, though as a wagon-repairer, not an engineer. Much to his chagrin—and my Grandmother’s relief!—that kept him out of the forces in the war, as he was in a needed job. He was a very active union man at a time when that really meant something (which KK could probably empathise with, current U.S. labour relations being what they are) and like Mr Alice’s Uncle, was also a skilled woodworker. He also loved a good never-ending debate, which is probably where I get it from :-).

    And that was supposed to be just a few words expressing similarities and such, not a small biography!

    Anyway, all my best to Mr Alice again, and I hope he’s coping okay.

  2. Sorry Alice. These statistical clusterings of misery are always hard. One could almost fathom the concept of a god, but only in that he hates us. I have been there.

    I do love your mini biography though. I’ve always subscribed to a warts and all approach to people’s lives and I hope they do the same to me. Orson Scott Card, Homophobe that he is, had a great idea with the Speaker for the Dead invention. The truth matters more that feel good fictions.

    Daz, you grandfather sounds fascinating. When we perfect that time machine Reilly’s working on in his room, we’ve got some people to visit.

    Give my best to Mr. Alice.

  3. I passed along the condolences, thank you gentlemen.

    My great-grandfather was a railroad man, though I couldn’t tell you much more about him, unfortunately.

    I was thinking of Speaker when I wrote that actually, KK. I’ve always hated the whole not speaking ill of the dead bit, making them into posthumous saints. I prefer to recall the real people, as they were. Very flawed, very colorful, and very human.

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