a bench with a view

a bench with a view

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Uncle John

My mom had 9 siblings, 5 sisters and 4 brothers. She was the youngest of them and the last of them to be married, at the age of 32, she considered herself an old maid, but nonetheless, she did get married and then had 3 kids over the next 5 or so years.

Being the youngest, I think she was a bit spoiled. I know she was deeply loved by the majority of her siblings.

She was also teased by her brothers, sometimes mercilessly so that she would run crying to her mother, who would tell her not to listen to them, but she would nonetheless.

Uncle John (her brother) would tease her that his nose was smaller than hers and when she would question him about it, he would measure his nose against hers and he would adjust the size of his fingers that her nose was always bigger than his. It took her a few years to figure out his strategy in always having the smaller nose.

My mom was a young widow, my dad dying when he was only 39 years old. I think her siblings that were in the town where she lived rallied around her and helped out whenever they could, they and my cousins, her nieces and nephews. Being the youngest, and married later than they did, the nieces and nephews were in their teens and older by the time her children came along, so my mom had a lot of babysitters available to her.

Uncle John and Aunt Stella lived about 2-1/2 blocks away from us. Funny, they lived in Sharon, Pennsylvania and a mere 2-1/2 blocks away we lived in Farrell, Pennsylvania. State Street was the dividing street on where you lived; we lived east of it, they lived west of it.

They had 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls. The boys during summer had a portable ice cone making type of machine that they would walk around in neighborhoods to sell ice cones too. Delicious.

They had a house with a basement and one room was dedicated as a train room with a model railroad set up with lots of tracks, scenery, and trains running.

Uncle John worked in one of the steel mills there.

I remember one time getting off the school bus in the midst of a downpour of rain and running to their house with my brother and sister since it was closer than our house. I remember being soaked, yet provided dried clothes and a place to stay until my mom could come and pick us up after she got off from work.

We eventually moved to San Diego. One year Uncle John and Aunt Stella with one of their daughters, Dorothy, came to visit us. He was retired by then, probably in his early 70's. The neighbors up the street from us had a mulberry tree in their front yard, ripe with fruit. Uncle John asked if he could pick the fruit, they were glad to have it gone. He picked the mulberries and made a pie from them; the one and only time I had mulberry pie, but boy was it delicious.

Aunt Stella died first, Uncle John tried to stay in their house, but he eventually needed additional care. He went into a nursing home, reluctantly. He always wanted to return home, to live on his own. His children didn't want that to happen, they figured he was unable to do so. In fact they sold the house without him knowing that they had sold it (not sure how that happened, can't remember that part of the story if it was relayed to me by my mom or if one of the children had power of attorney to do so).

He always asked at the nursing home what he had to do to get to be able to leave the nursing home. To humor him, they told him he had to do this, be capable of doing that, independent with this activity of daily living, etc. He strove to do what was required of him and he reached each and every milestone that they said he needed to do to leave the nursing home.

He was ready to leave, asked them when it would happen. His children told him it would not happen, the house was sold, he would have to continue to live at the nursing home.

Devastated, defeated, he died soon after that at the age of 94.

My mom always thought it wasn't quite fair how it played out; how hard he had worked, how he had been deceived.

I don't have too many more memories of him. I think though he was a good man.........

26 comments:

Renegades said...

I've never had mulberry pie.

TARYTERRE said...

What a fascinating man your uncle was.

Sharon said...

Oh what a sad story. Your story reminds me of why my brother, sister, and I are trying so hard to make the right decisions for my parents. It's never easy - but it is very important to treat the elderly with dignity and respect - and to continue to value their opinions as much as possible.

GOD BLESS!

Michelle said...

What a sad story.......he sounded like he had a wonderful influence on your life though.

Bijoux said...

That is a sad story, but I feel for both sides. It is exhausting to be in your 50s and older and try to maintain two homes because your elderly parents want to remain in their family home.

I didn't even realize you could eat mulberries! I the resting. Also didn't know you grew up so close to me.

Bijoux said...

Meant to say interesting, not I the resting!

LynnMarie said...

What a nice stroy until the end. His kids did him wrong! So glad you have those memories however.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It's nice you have such good memories of your uncle. He sounds like a wonderful man.

Shelly said...

Oh, how sad that he worked so hard to reach those goals and they didn't have any intention of letting him leave. It does sound like they were great people- so kind.

Jeanie said...

What a rough deal for your uncle who sounds like he was a very good man. I'm sure his kids had their side of the story, but it seems like they should have been more open with him.

Joanne Noragon said...

I think back on all my relatives like Uncle John and say of them, He was a good man. The bit about coming home is so cruel. I know some children now who are doing that to my friend's Aunt Dorothy. The children who don't like it won't take responsibility. So sad.

The Brown Recluse said...

I would have loved your Uncle John. It makes me sad to think his kids did that to him...but I am sure they didn't intentionally try to do him wrong, it just happened that it was, indeed, very wrong.

Intense Guy said...

Your Uncle John sounds like an open, warm, honest, loving and simple person. It is sad how his life unwound - it seems his "trust" in his family let him down. He is an example of what I call a "real gentleman" - and one that this country needs today rather badly.

It's hard to "step up" when it's time to take care of your folks - but goodness - they have given YOU decades of their love, support, and time. The return of which, should be a "given."

Pat Hatt said...

Wow after all of that and then to find out he was deceived, sad indeed.

Linda said...

Nice trip down memory lane and how family rallied around your mom! Uncle had amazing comeback focused on the goal. Tough decisions to make, but let's not forget being more honest about situation.

SweetMarie said...

At least he lived to be 94.:) Thanks for sharing. :)

Hollie said...

Oh how sad!! This just breaks my heart!!

Jen Forbes said...

What a terribly sad ending to what sounded like a rich life. He was lucky to have your mom and you in his life. I'm sure that those wonderful memories kept him company in his last days.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I know at some point that will happen to all of us and it's just so sad. I'm thankful my dad can still live alone but the day is coming when he won't be able to. Those are such hard decision and I wonder who had power of attorney? Obviously he was never going back but it's still wasn't fair. When my Uncle here in CA died we had hospice in the house and he died within a few days. When my Aunt got ill she had to go to a nursing home. We eventually had to talk to the hospice people and they went to check out her condition. The next day she died, she knew exactly what it was and didn't want any part of it!

netablogs said...

Memories are so precious. Unfortunately, they aren't all happy. My parents are in their 70's now and on a waiting list for a retirement home (where they can still be independent). I hope they enjoy many more years together in their apartment and that they won't have to go into a nursing home.

jack69 said...

I enjoyed your memories. I like others memories. I could see the room with trains, I always wanted that. so sad for your mom and also the kids for her to be widowed so young. I like to heard your thoughts of her. she must have been a tough kid, as the baby of the family. I am the baby, I relate.
Thanks for the good and bad, in your thoughts. We see it more and more, the real estate is sold the money divided, even before the death of the seniors.

This was good. THANKS!

Mevely317 said...

Oh Betty ... I'm at a loss to describe my emotions-run-amok while reading this. First, I'll bet-cha your Uncle John has a lump in his throat the size of Texas. (Here, I'm presuming those in Heaven still get lumps in their throats!)
I was so saddened to read, that after completing all those assignments and having a real goal to hang onto, Uncle John's hopes were dashed. I just hope and pray that someone who's facing a similar situation with his/her parents will read this and have second thoughts.
Hugs, Myra

Seriously Though said...

I've walked with people through those situations. Very difficult on many, many levels for both the adult children making those decisions and saying "goodbye" to their parents' home, and for the parent who can't live alone anymore. I pray a lot, and I mean a lot, when I'm helping people in these situations.

Juli said...

It makes me crazy when people lie, even when they think it is best. So sad that he worked so hard and died defeated.

Awesome that you had great memories of him though.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Interesting and sad. Tough on both sides of that story.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

First, Betty, thanks for your recent visit to our blog (The Frog & PenguINN). I read this post and several others and thank you for sharing stories of your life. As others have said, your uncle and aunt were warm and caring people. It was sad that after achieving the goals, your uncle was told he had no home to return to. As hard as the decisions family members mare are for all concerned, it seems those most affected need to be kept in the loop. I am sure your uncle might have even lived beyond his years had he known the whole truth. This was a sad ending to a wonderful remembrance.