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Uncle Joe, my father, and me

August 28, 2015

I’m really torn about not being able to be there — the funeral Mass will be starting soon, so final good-byes are being said.

RIP, JPF (1935–2015)



This morning I searched for links to posts I’d written about me and my father attending family funerals together, and found this instead. Uncle Joe is in it.

Excerpt from post of 8.20.2012:

That first year of our marriage, my father’s oldest brother died unexpectedly in June; my father’s uncle died three months later.

For my uncle’s funeral, Spouse and I drove back to Chicagoland. My father’s uncle, though, had been living in a nursing home for old veterans, outside of Lafayette IN, and his funeral took place there. I drove there alone. I think that was my first solo ‘road trip’. When I managed to locate my father and one of my uncles on the extensive grounds, I felt like an adult in a whole new way. Afterward, the three of us went out for lunch.

Maybe it was the presence of his brother (who is my godfather), but my father was respectful of me. He talked to me like I was an adult. Like I was interesting in my own right.

That description echoes what I’ve written before about he and I going to family funerals when I was a teenager and young adult. But this day had a different flavor.

I felt like my father saw me, for the first time.

So odd that that could happen at the funeral of a relative I didn’t remember ever meeting.

When lunch ended, my father and uncle got into their car to return to Illinois. And for the first time, I got into my car, and drove back to my home, which was no longer Illinois.


Here’s the post I went looking for.


The only other story that sort of connects me to Uncle Joe is that, when they were kids together (in the 1940s), Uncle Joe patiently taught my father his times tables, and my father often referred to that special time with his brother as he patiently taught me my own times tables.

I aspired to being as smart as Uncle Joe one day, but unconsciously, I think I somehow assumed being super smart would equate to being beloved, since that’s how my father felt about Uncle Joe. It didn’t turn out like that at all.


I still wish I could have been there today.

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