My Uncle Lou died on the 21st. Five years, to the day, after my father. The two were inseparable back in the day. Every Thursday they during golf season (April to October, maybe November) the two would play a round of golf then head over to Windsor (Canada) to Ings, their favorite Chinese restaurant.
My Uncles Al and Lou and their sons, Ron, David and Louis all played a huge role in my brother Chris and my childhood – also with my younger brother Joe and my sisters, but Chris and I were the perfect age. Uncle Lou’s daughters as well.
Of my fondest childhood memories, the whole family would head over to my uncle Al’s Christmas evening. After dinner we would play tag outside and hit the Towne Club or Faygo soda… Hard. Our older cousins would try to convince my parents to let us see that year’s Christmas blockbuster with them (they tried hard for Aliens in ’86 – I was 16 – but to no avail). The evening would hit its crescendo when my Uncle Al pulled out his acoustic guitar and my Uncle Lou, his accordion. They’d play for hours – and you could always tell how intoxicated they were by the amount of clothing left on the two. First the jacket would go. Then the tie. Then the dress shirt… and that was it.
The thing that really sticks out now is how much I’ve always felt a part of that family. My mom’s side of the family married into theirs. In fact, my mother’s father was 100% Irish and my Uncles’ side of the family 100% Italian. In the US, there’s a pretty big gap betwixt the two). My dad was raised Italian and Polish but was adopted – while raised in the heritage (my Grandpa Tony came literally came over on a boat), we were there by marriage. We should have been black sheep – invited, but always on the periphery of the family. That wasn’t the case though. They welcomed us in like we were their own and still treat us as such now that we’re all aging.
The funeral service was beautiful (Catholic mass) and the luncheon afterward was something I won’t soon forget. My wife and I, and our kids, talking with all of my favorite cousins… God, I missed that. I don’t get choked up very often, but when I do I make it count. Such was the case yesterday.
Saying goodbye to my Uncle Lou was tough, but his end came at a good time. He, like my father when he passed away, was suffering from dementia. None of that matters now, as was pointed out numerous times yesterday, my dad and Uncle Lou were undoubtedly on heaven’s golf course together again. I’d be willing to bet they’re playing 36 holes a day, just to make up for lost time.
I just hope, for God’s sake, He’s got a legit Chinese restaurant up there. With those two back together, He’s gonna need it.