My uncle died.
Three simple little words that signify the end of a generation in our family.
A large family of seven brothers and one sister. Considering the age span, they were quite close. The eldest, the girl, was married and raising a family of her own soon after the youngest (my father) was born. They homesteaded in what was then a remote area in the wilds of Alberta during the Dirty Thirties. Fortunately for them, their homestead, although remote, was not afflicted by the troubles experienced in other areas of the country at that time. They had little money, but they had plenty of wild game to hunt in the winter, wild berries to pick in the summer, and lots of hard work and fresh air to keep them healthy.
A musical family. All of them were taught to play a musical instrument, but the youngest boys formed an orchestra and played at dances in the small community where they grew up. They kept up the musical tradition as adults, playing together at the yearly family reunions they held. The three youngest siblings especially. If they knew they were going to see each other for any reason whatsoever, they always took along their musical instruments - violin, guitar, banjo. (I suppose it's fortunate none of them played the double bass....)
Their little orchestra was slowly diminished over the years as they passed away one by one until finally, Uncle Marvin was the last. He and I held many conversations, mostly over the phone because of physical distance, and he would reminisce about their early years. I heard some stories I had never heard before, along with some I knew by heart.
His youngest son contacted me a week or so ago to tell me the sad news. His father had slipped and fallen and broken a hip. At the age of 91 years and 8 months, he hadn't the strength to battle back.
My cousins did me the great honour of asking me to eulogize my uncle, and, although it was difficult, I hope I brought him back to life for a few minutes during the celebration of life they held for him.
Although we are saddened by his passing, I know that somewhere in the afterlife, there's another family reunion going on. In fact, I can faintly hear the strains of "Maple Sugar", "Wheels" and "Squaws Along the Yukon" right this minute. I can almost hear 'Doc' and 'Chief' ribbing 'the Kid' about being late to the party yet again.
Leah's dad, is to the left of Marvin)