Thursday, April 18, 2013


"Remember the fort that used to be here in the back yard?" my cousin Mike asked me.

"I thought it was a tree house," I recalled incorrectly.

"The yard was much bigger then," his younger brother, Dana, added.  

Memories last forever.

Four generations of my mother's family gathered in the brick colonial house for Uncle Duck's funeral yesterday.  Aunt Mimi, 94, still spry, articulate and sharp, continued the chain of family stories.  Doug and I ate the generous meal provided by the church.  The others ate earlier so they talked.  We ate and mostly listened.  Laughter boinged off the walls.
Libby, Mike, Uncle Duck with grands many
years ago as we gathered one Christmas.

Old stories were repeated.  New stories were delightfully shared. Now I realize telling family events is a lot like forcing friends to watch your vacation video.  Two things differ here. . .

1. You can stop reading right now.  
2. If you do, you'll miss one funny story!

Just one.  Promise.  This was one I'd never heard about Uncle Duck as a teenager.  His 2 sons, Dana and Mike, joined their mother, Aunt Mimi, recounting for me.  This one even predates their 72 year marriage!
Mama with her brother, Duck and Mimi

"Daddy loved playing anything--baseball, cards, golf.  He was a good athlete too, even though he was heavy set."

"Yeah.  His nickname came from his toddler days.  He waddled like a DUCK!"  That part I knew.

"He didn't like to work, even though he made a good living and provided well for us.  He'd work just to get play time.  It started young."

Granddaddy was a farmer and told his teen son, "Duck, go fertilize the 4 acres of tobacco."

"But, Daddy, I wanna go to the baseball game."

"Then you better hurry then.  Fertilize.  Then play ball."

Back then it was done by hand, so Duck waddled to the tobacco field and decided to get rid of all the fertilizer in the first acre.  Who'd know, he thought and figured he could get to his game in time.

No one did know.  At first.

Be sure your sins will find you out.

Some time later Granddaddy was driving past the field into town.  He noticed the front crop was tall with unusually thick tobacco leaves, eventually reaching 8 feet!  But the back 3 acres were short shoots, never even reaching knee height.  He made a screeching U turn, stormed back into the house, grabbed Duck by the collar and gave him an old fashioned whuppin'!

Next day Granddaddy rode by the tobacco field again, saw it, U-turned back home and whupped Duck again.  They say the scene repeated itself for days.  It took awhile for Granddaddy to get over the loss.  But not one acre was sellable!

Indelible marks were left in various places, mentally and physically, no doubt.

Memories last forever.

Funerals are not all about death.  Life is celebrated.  Families come together, share their history, comfort each other in the telling, laugh and cry as they hug.  It's a little like heaven on earth.  But we have to let go of each other and Uncle Duck.  He's doing the same thing but doesn't have to say goodbye.  A taste of heaven for us.

We're in the land of the dying, heading toward the land of the living, where. . .

memories last forever.

Good or bad ones live on.  Make good ones with your forever family.
Christmas card with David and Mike
Our Kent trying Duck's cigar!
Dana's hair WAS in style back then.

I promised you just one story, but you're still reading so if you're into broken promises here goes one more.  Feel free to exit. . .unless you want another good laugh.

A few days before Uncle Duck died he was taken to a hospice house and was unconscious.  Aunt Mimi phoned me, "Kathy, he hasn't spoken in days but I kissed him and told him I loved him.  He said, 'I love you too. . .sooooo much.'  Isn't that wonderful for his last words?"

Mike stood and eulogized at the funeral yesterday, sharing, "Dad was a man of few words but when he spoke, you listened and knew where he stood.  As they transferred him from the gurney to his hospice bed, they hoisted him and when he dropped to the new bed, he spoke for the first time in days, 'Damn!'   His last word was brief and direct!" 

Apparently mother and son hadn't shared their differing last-words-stories.  Sweet memories.  Funny memories.  Even to the end.

Memories last forever.                                         

1 comment:

  1. Family and memories are special!