My Uncle Gene

>> Sunday, August 2, 2009

I got bad news this week. My uncle Gene died in Guatamala.

Now, it's a bit complicated. See, my father was the eldest of twelve children, nine of them boys. Large family, yes. Gene was one of the children toward the younger end. For that reason, I didn't know Gene very well, but, you know, he was still a person I really identified with quickly.

Partly, it was because he was funny. Gene could crack me up. There was a sense of humor, sarcastic, that runs through my family. My father had it and Gene had it in spades.

For instance, much of his humor stemmed around food, a particular favorite of Gene's. He told me that, when he was a kid, he didn't know that there was such a thing as unburned toast. He was not an early riser (a trait I understand) and, when he got up, most of his siblings had generally already made themselves breakfast. If anyone had burnt the toast, they'd save it and tell him when he got there, "Here, Gene, I made this just for you."

Gene told me once he joined the Navy because you could get seconds.

Gene was a genius on one topic, an almost quintessential example of someone who excelled at one thing but wasn't necessarily an expert otherwise. What was his specialty? Energy, specific nuclear energy. He was a genius. In college, I took nuclear physics just so I could understand a fraction of what he'd send me in letters. Unfortunately, it didn't help as much as I hoped. He was still beyond me.

A decade or two ago, he went to South America. I didn't hear the reason directly, only second-hand and I never entirely understood why he went there. But none of us heard from him for years, decades.

Unfortunately, I don't know if we'll ever really know why he went there, what he found there, or what happened to him. I'm grateful to the people who found him, and got him help, but it was too late and he died of bronchitis/pneumonia the next day. We knew nothing of this until the Embassy of Guatamala called us.

I've missed Gene a long time, but I always hoped there would be other chances to talk to my charming, my irreverent, my genius uncle Gene. I grieve his passing.

We love you, Gene.


Post a Comment


Blog Makeover by LadyJava Creations