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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Uncle Gary

The Hudson River is flying by me outside at the moment, with all it's glorious cliffs on the New Jersey side. I'm currently riding the train up to Beacon right now where I'm meeting a family friend. I'll be staying tonight in Stanfordville with my parents and that family friend (a family friend that lives down the street from the house I was born in!). Saturday morning, we're heading up to Albany for my Uncle's memorial service, who passed away last Friday. It'll be nice to see family but it's with a heavy heart that I go. He was diagnosed with cancer a little too late.

My uncle was a great, fun-loving, jovial, easy-going guy who died way too young. I will always remember him as this laid back sarcastic person with such an arresting belly laugh that you couldn't help but laugh along with him when you heard it. I remember him teaching me how to fish when I was 8 or so, showing me that the best way to extend my bait was to rip the poor earthworms in half, which I did…multiple times. And I recall him always being quick witted. One day, as a young kid, probably on the same earthworm visit, when I hailed him with his full title, Uncle Gary, one too many times he began referring to me as Nephew Tim. I respond to my nephews the same way now.

Always young at heart, one of my favorite memories of him was recent, when we all were visiting at Thanksgiving two years ago in 2009. Groggily napping off a turkey binge on the couch I overheard him and my cousin talking about whiskey. Gary's line was, "I like a good sipping whiskey." Opening one eye and turning my head I said, fully awake now, "me too." As I was about to turn back over and go back to my napping, he says, with one eyebrow raised, "Really?" So, the three of us, my cousin, Gary and I, tiptoed down to the completely-finished basement room of their recently moved-into house where Gary had a makeshift bar set up. Feeling a little delinquent, but not too terribly much, we all sipped Crown Royal Reserve whiskey for the next hour until we were found out by one of the other aunts (Linda, who is part Irish and objected that we didn't invite the only person of Irish descent to our little whiskey party).

Beyond sneaking around like a teenager, I will always remember my Uncle Gary when I'm on a boat or near water. As long as I've known him, he and my aunt have lived near water and had a boat of some kind. Gary was in his element on the water. I remember rowing around Lake Elisabeth with him, kayaking in Pamlico Sound in NC, and most recently, tooling around Sleep Hollow Lake in Coxsackie on his pontoon boat. One of their favorite vacation spots was the Outer Banks of NC where he happened to be the same week of my honeymoon there with my ex-wife, staying in a 3 story rental house on Hatteras, an island away from where my ex and I were camping. Kayaking and wind surfing were primary activities but one morning, Gary found crab traps floating in the sound right by the shore line. So he immediately and enthusiastically drove to the grocery and bought turkey necks to place in the traps to catch crabs with. By the end of the day, we ended up with about 14 crabs in total which contributed to the massive cookout we were already planning on having on the top deck of the house.

So the memories go. I'm certain there will be a lot of laughing tomorrow in addition to a little bit of crying. He is at peace now but will be greatly missed by us all.

Right now, I sit finishing this blog at my friend's house in Poughkeepsie, about a stone's throw away from the house where I was born. Man, does it look different now, too. They've fenced a portion of the yard, put in a pool, rebuilt the stairs, it seems, to the front porch that my sister knocked me off when I was barely 3 years old (long story...and it wasn't her fault), and they paved the driveway as well. The family that lives there has adopted 5 special needs kids and probably wanted a relatively safe place for them to live. Anyway, it's weird seeing it again, barely recognizable after all these years. I should be getting off to sleep soon. My brother is sharing this room with me and I might be keeping him up (by the time I was done proofing this blog he was already snoring on the bed). Good night for now.

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