My uncle passed away last week. He wasn’t just your typical old long lost uncle. He was very special to me, and many of my cousins. There are a ton of us. A metric crap-ton to be exact. My mom had 6 sisters & 2 brothers, all married and all had kids. I am one of the youngest of the cousins, with only 2 out of that ton younger then me. My mom and aunt were very close and their lives intertwined and intersected at many different points in their lives, and therefore we all grew very close to my aunt’s husband, Uncle Roger.
Uncle Roger was full of life. I never saw a frown on his face. He was always there to make you feel like the most special person in the world. No matter who you were or what you had done, he was always forgiving, trustworthy and honest. He worked hard and played even harder. He loved with his whole heart. He always held the babies. He gave the biggest and most genuine hugs and always called you “Schweetheart!”
He and my aunt have been married since before time. I have never seen a couple more in love and committed to each other then he and my aunt. They reflected everything a marriage is. It never occurred to me until I was older and had experienced marriages around me crumble and fall apart, while theirs stood strong. I have no idea what was different with them, but all I do know is that it was magical. I loved to watch him look at her with sheer unconditional love. He was her prince charming and she his fair lady. My heart goes out to my aunt, and I vow before the intrWebs that I will make a better effort to keep in touch with her in his honor.
Uncle Roger loved a good party (as do most of my French-Canadian relatives). When I was younger and everyone was still together, our clan had parties. Many of them were at Uncle Roger’s house. He had the party house. Pool, inside bar, outside bar, sauna, pool table, volleyball, large fenced horse pasture, and more. He was usually the life of the party. The ultimate bar tender in his tanned skin and Speedo bathing suit (you wouldn’t understand, its a Canadian thing). I learned to swim in his pool. I played hide and seek in the field and hid in the sauna (not while it was on) when it was time to go home. Or if it was a late night, I’d fall asleep on this velvet-y loveseat in the ultimate 70’s style finished basement/rec room.
My mom and I even lived with my Aunt and Uncle for a short time while our house, just a few miles away was finishing being built. My absolute favorite memory of Uncle Roger was when we lived with them. I was really young. He would drive me to daycare. We’d stop at Dunkin’ Donuts (everyone there knew him, of course). I’d get a chocolate glaze and a glass of milk and he’d get a jelly and some coffee. Then he’d get a box of munchkins for me to bring to school to share. I really think that is the very first of all my memories.
Through the power of Facebook (yes, it does have some decent qualities), most of us cousins reconnected while Uncle Roger was sick and ultimately passed. Because of Uncle Roger, we have all been able to reconnect and catch up. He brought our family together again, even on his dying day. I’m sure we will keep up with each other now. A friend on Facebook saw a picture I had put up of him and said, “the love on his face shines through bigger and brighter than the sun“, I can’t think of more accurate words then that. In the conversations between the cousins, we all shared memories of him. The main theme of our conversation was his hugs, his voice “Hey there Schweetheart!” a scotch in his hand and his Speedo. He made each one of us feel special in our own way. I will miss him very very much.
If I believed in an after life, then Uncle Roger and my mom are up there looking down on us all. Laughing and carrying on in French, just waiting for the rest of us to join the party. I’m sure when we get up there, he will be there behind the bar, waiting to pour a drink.