« Friday's Feast Addendum: Eat Dessert First! | Main | Friday's Feast #114 »

He built things

Uncle Freddie's gone.

As far as our family tree goes, you wouldn't find Uncle Fred on any branches or limbs,  but you will find him woven into the tapestry of our lives... with the brightest and strongest of fibers.

Uncle Freddie was Dad's best friend.  Aunt Barbara was Mom's.  Dad and Uncle Fred taught together, coached together, played together, laughed, cried, ate, and drank together.  And about 10 years ago, they mid-life'd together; divorcing and remarrying within about a year of one and other.

At the funeral today, I thought of the following, which--in the moments where I let the funeral be all about me--I delivered in a quiet eulogy.

They teach us in church that God so loved the world, He sent His only son to live there.  And I think that God so loved His son that He sent Him to be raised by a carpenter.  Uncle Freddie was a carpenter; a teacher; a coach.  He built things.

He built houses.  He dug ditches.  He planted trees.  He cut some down.

He built the characters of his students, fired their imaginations, and sent them on their way.

He built the bodies of his football players, trained their minds, and showed them how to fight the good fight.

He built dollhouses for my sisters.  He taught my bother how to hit a golf ball straight.  And he taught me how to drive a nail straight.  Well, almost straight.

As the sun rose on this beautiful October day, it shone on the marks that Uncle Fred made on this Earth.  It touched the rooftops of homes that he built, it shone in our eyes on the way to the funeral home, it warmed an unusually warm Columbus Day afternoon at the church up on Washington Hill; blocks away from his South Street boyhood home. 

For all of those he touched, in the grandest and smallest of ways, he built stuff; and those of us who take him to his rest after 71 years, and send him on his way, are part of his legacy.

366478-500139-thumbnail.jpgThanks, Uncle Freddie.  Thanks for teaching a boy the lessons that he was too proud to learn from his father.  Thanks for the laughs, the hard work, the "Work with your mind so you don't have to work with your back" days of framing, hammering, painting, chipping, tiling, grouting, and Frankies' Hot Dogs.  Thanks for supporting all the things we did, for cheering Tommy when he played football and followed your example as a coach; for charming my sisters, especially your Goddaughter Lisa; for steadying us the day we buried our Mom. 

I haven't cried as much, or felt as sad, in a long time.  Really sad.  Deep sad.

Though I know that from now on, the jokes will begin: 

"Jesus, Moses.... and Uncle Freddie are playing golf..."

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.