One of my favorite Uncles died the other day. He was fifty years old. He was a good man, especially in his later years, and he will be missed by many. He was diagnosed back in February of this year with cancer. It was found in several of his organs, including his pancreas. He held on, in much pain, for nearly four months.
My Dad has three other brothers, the youngest two I grew to be very close to over the years of my childhood, and it continued as I grew to be an adult. Their Mother had died when they all were pretty young and as they grew older the two youngest ones spent a lot of time living with my parents and me. I can remember being a child in grade school and hearing my Uncles tell me stories of their adventures in the Army and their conquests with women. As I grew older my Uncle Hank took me under his wing often, teaching me things that were of interest to him; mainly horses and airplanes. He was an accomplished pilot and horseman. He raised, broke, trained and sold horses most of his life. He loved being on a horse and I think he always saw himself in his fantasies as a cowboy.
Hank was also a successful business owner, owning two very successful restaurants/bars in his city. It was at one of these that he invited me to come work for him in his “management training program” back in the early 90’s. During the two years I was in his employ I learned a lot about the other side of my Uncle. I began writing about this back in late January and early February here on my blog. If you care to read these posts you can click on them here;
The Family Business Part 1
The Family Business Part 2
Originally I had intended to relate those experiences from my younger days as a way to find something interesting to write about. I ended up getting pretty detailed about certain events from that time and it began to play out like a badly written porn novel. Soon after I had begun with the stories I discovered Hank had become very sick, and out of respect for him I stopped writing about my time in his employ. I didn’t think it was right to share about his “bad times” when he was laying up sick in the hospital. As days went by I learned that his sickness was terminal, and eventually I abandoned those writings all together. I guess you may wonder why it is I choose to share those stories again here when they are pretty much forgotten and filed away in my archives. I suppose the real reason is because I want to stress how a person can change from reckless, care free and immoral to become a good and respected person. This all happened to Hank in the past nine years.
About nine years ago my Uncle had a terrible accident while ridding horses with a friend. They were drunk and decided to race down hill. Hank’s mustang tripped on a tree root in the path and threw him. He hit the ground sliding down the hill with the horse on its side, right behind him. He ended up making contact with a tree and the horse hit, wedging him between animal and tree. He wasn’t expected to live. The entire family traveled to him prepared to attend a funeral. But he did live. He eventually worked his way back, but was never normal. In a way, that was a good thing. He changed and his life changed as well. He became a much better husband and Father to his sons. He stopped all his wild ways, gave up the drugs and other women and looked at life like only someone who stared death in the face could. I last saw him back during the July family reunion at my parent’s home in Tennessee. I can still see him sitting out on the deck and laughing and talking with us all by the pool. That is how I will remember him.
I will miss my Uncle.