Every Memorial day , July 4th, and laborday ,I would look forward to spending time with my Uncle Bill.
Uncle Bill became my mentor , my Father figure in my life.
My Father had passed away when I was 3 years old,and I guess I adopted Uncle Bill as the man I looked up to.
Uncle Bill was not a well educated man, but he was intelligent .He had grown up working in the coal mines of Northeast Pa. , I know he also worked as a Borough Policeman, a Butcher ,an electrician and he built modular homes .
I remember walking into his house and smelling pigs-in-a-blanket cooking on the stove(stuffed cabbage or Halupki if you are from around here)He liked to cook .And tell stories.
He taught me how to drive his old Oldsmobile .We would go for a ride "up the farm"where his buddies lived .
He sparked my interest in the outdoors and hunting,telling me of his adventures and showing the game he brought home and his few well worn firearms.
He would give me Game News magazines , full of hunting stories,and he let me ask the same questions over and over.
Nen and Uncle Bill would come up for Sunday dinner, and we would watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, and I would sneak him beers out of the refrigerator and Nen would pretend she didn't see me do it.
I swear he knew everybody, if you mentioned a name, he would know a cousin or friend or met them at some point.
It seems like only yesterday we were sitting on his screened in porch looking up at the mountain as hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill and the little town was alive with whistles and pops and flashes of Independence day.
It was actually a long time ago, at least 25 years.
My wife and I had a 1st Birthday party for our Daughter, in our apartment, I thought I was so grown up. Our families were there. Nen and Uncle Bill were there too.
I remember walking them out to their car when they were leaving and Nen driving because Uncle Bill had a few beers.
When we said goodbye this time it seemed a little different, Uncle Bill had a little smile on his face and seemed satisfied.
That would be the last time I talked to Uncle Bill .
He passed away 1 week later .
I really miss him .
The Traditions He and Nen made for us were so looked forward to all year , it was like celebrating Christmas or your birthday, but like all things those traditions have faded away,and are now a fond memory.
I do not remember If I had ever thanked him for all of those little things and stories and rides, I probably didn't , when you are young you think you have all the time in the world to say the thank you's or I love you's.
Sometimes Gods schedule and your schedule just don't coincide.
Start a new tradition, an easy one, say your Love you' s and your Thank you's now ,while you can appreciate them.