My Uncle Gary died on Wednesday.
He was an amazing man. His gentle spirit. His kindness. His lack for words spoke louder than any of mine ever could, and I always saw him as an example of grace, kindness and warmth.
I remember him first riding on his John Deere tractor, as I rode behind him on PJ, a horse. I would chase after him in the corn fields of Michigan, often delivering him his lunch from my Aunt Donna. That was back in the day when a 10 year old girl could ride a horse by herself through corn fields unsupervised, mind you. Uncle Gary never had much to say when it came to me and the horses and Aunt Donna. He was a farmer, plain and simple and honest. He was such a sweet and kind man. Aunt Donna was definitely the lively spark there. Uncle Gary (as with my own husband) just went along with it. I always thought their differences were amusing. She was so alive and boistrous and yet he was semi-silent in the background, but always present and steady. She, an art teacher, and he a farmer. Yet united in marriage and I always saw them as a team. I don’t recall ever seeing them argue.
The one time I went flying outta the saddle Uncle Gary was right there. Back then I guess I never thought I was supervised and felt the freedom of such but now, looking back, I realize he was watching me all along. He knew where I was and better yet, he knew where PJ was the whole time I was on their property. He knew that horse wouldn’t hurt me and would return me to safety in spite of my dumb ass. I flew off of that horse via a stinkin’ horse fly and that dang horse stood still until I got back up on him and I remember seeing Uncle Gary on his tractor in the distance, making sure. Now I remember. He gave me a questionable “thumbs up?” when he saw me on the ground an acre away and I scurried back up and nodded yes. He kept on with his farming at that point, noting that I was safe. I don’t think we ever even discussed it.
He was easy to laugh and always had a smile on his face. Gentle is the best word I can use to describe him. He was truly a gentle man. I’m going to miss Uncle Gary. He didn’t talk much but when he did, he made those words count. I wish I could say the same. We could all learn a lesson from Uncle Gary.
My heart goes out to Aunt Donna and her daughter, Genia. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to lose your best life-long friend. I’ve only been married 8 some years but I can’t imagine life without Johnny. Aunt Donna had a life for 54 years with Uncle Gary and I can only imagine the hole in her and Genia’s heart and home. I would sob just looking at his slippers. I didn’t know much about Uncle Gary, looking back now but what I do know is I guess what truly matters. He was kind. He was gracious. He smiled a whole lot. I would be so lucky.
Godspeed to Heaven, Uncle Gary.