Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Uncle Dale

Addresses in hand I left my uncle’s, drove back to Chicago and flew back home.  It was about this time that I hit a fork in the road that distracted me from furthering my family history for a few years. It was in preparing for my first child’s arrival that the passion for genealogy came out and I wanted to learn more than just the names of my dad’s family, I wanted to learn it all - where they came from, how they got there, why did they choose that place to settle, and so on.
Uncle Dale provided that first glimpse.  His was one of the addresses acquired when I visited with Uncle Tom.  My little family was living in Ft. Campbell Kentucky at the time.  He and his wife travelled down to visit us bring stories and photos to share.  Until that time we had sent Christmas cards, and may have talked on the phone once or twice.  The moment that I learned they were coming I was riddled with anxiety.  The moment I saw him I was struck by how much he looked like my father and even though I felt awkward I was comforted by how easy it was to talk with him.  Both he and my aunt readily shared as much as they could about my dad, the family and had even brought some photos they had.  I learned that a house fire and destroyed some early photos of the family, so there weren’t very many of younger years, yet what was before me was gold.  I need to get copies of those photos or find a way to get them off the tape I have.
All the things I learned of my family that day were a little daunting.  Bad blood existed between the two families that had been married together, one brother isolated himself, there was a family farm in Wisconsin, and so on, but my dad’s stories were the most surprising to me and when I shared with my mom she was shocked.  I did my best to recall all of it when I got home and wrote it down.  I didn’t worry too much though because I figured I would ask again for the stories and record them later for the family.  That day would never arrive.  Over the years I stopped in and visited my uncle whenever we traveled in the area and listened to stories about him and would ask him if he recalled someone, it was good times.  Upon moving back to Colorado I got a phone call from my uncle and I don’t recall what the diagnosis was, but essential what I do know is that my uncle had a tumor on his brain that created Alzheimer’s and before he passed away we went and visited with him.  My aunt says that he talked of that visit often before the dementia took over and he was gone from us.  He’ll always be in my heart and I’m glad that I started a conversation with him.

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