Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Remembering Uncle Merle

It's a personal conviction of mine, that when I'm feeling whiney, eager to complain and find all the bad about everything, that I stop and take stock about all the good. I must confess, I have a tendency to feel whiney and complain quite a bit - especially when things don't go my way. I'm a bit of an organization freak and when things get disorganized, I don't do well. It's not easy learning how to go with the flow. Especially when the flow is messy, interrupted and gives me a headache.

So today I stopped myself and did my little personal inventory and I also wanted to take a minute today and mention here, one of those things that are "good".

As odd as it may sound, my uncle Merle's obituary appeared in the local paper yesterday, and seeing his face was a very good thing. My mom commented to me that it was a good picture of him (and it is) and that looks like he just did something to someone (and he probably did). My uncle Merle was a real goofball.

When I was little up until I moved out at 18, our family was pretty tight. Every Sunday we all convened at grandma and grandpa's house for supper. Quite often uncle Merle and aunt Judy and their kids would be there too, and while the adults visited in the living room all of us cousins would play outside, or in the back bedroom if it was raining, or down in the basement at gpa's pool table, shuffleboard table or dart board. Uncle Merle was famous in our family for sneaking up behind someone (usually one of the kids, only because the adults were wise to his tricks) and try to talk them out of some kind of yummy thing on their plate. If he was told no, he couldn't have it, you could pretty much set your watch by the fact that in a few minutes he'd come sneaking back up behind you and try to slip his fork onto your plate to steal your goodies when you weren't looking. Once in a while he got away with it, but he usually got caught long before he succeeded. Usually, it was one of the adults yelling "Merle, stop it!" because us poor kids didn't know what he was doing. It didn't matter that all us kids grew up and also got wise to his tricks, he did the same thing with my kids, and my sister's kids, and his own grandkids too. It might sound silly, but we all came to expect it of him and always laughed when he did it, even though we knew he was going to do it. Some of us even learned how to sneak goodies off his plate, when he wasn't looking.

Yesterday, Jessica, Yost and baby Hailey came for dinner and she was flipping through a photo album of our last trip home in 2001. It was a Sunday and everyone was at grandma's. Almost everyone, that is. Grandpa was already gone, and none of the cousins were there that day but some aunts & uncles, mom & step dad JD, and us and our six kids at the time. I didn't know when I'd be back, so I talked everyone into stepping up for pictures, and I got a really great shot of Uncle Merle and his wife Robin, standing in front of grandma's overgrown grapevines in the back yard. Merle had the same cheshire cat grin in that picture, that he has in the picture on the obituary page. It was the same grin he always had, and the attitude he always showed up with.

I told my mom today that I didn't know if it was Uncle Merle's life goal to be remembered for being a smarty pants (in a good way), but if it wasn't, it wouldn't matter because that is certainly how he will be remembered by so many of his family members. He knew how to laugh, and how to make other people laugh, and that is a really good thing. He will be greatly missed in our family, but we will all smile when we remember what kind of a person he was.