I am REALLY not ready to lose any more of my parents' generation from the family. But, we did. Monday evening. Uncle Gerry's cancer got the better of him. Just a week before his and Aunt Phyl's anniversary. And now one more of those people who've been a part of my life for all 58 years is gone.
Gerry married my dad's younger sister, Phyllis, in Lansing, Michigan almost exactly 52 years ago. I don't keep track of the anniversary dates of most of my relatives. But, this one I know - November 17. I remember it because (a) I was the flower girl in their wedding and (b)they got married on my birthday. I think I was seven. I was so thrilled - the beautiful flower girl dress and all that attention. And, at the reception I got a birthday present of a piggy bank, which was passed around so that all the adults at the party could make a contribution to the bank. Oh, wow! pretty big stuff for a seven year old.
Aunt Phyl and Uncle Gerry were a lifesaver for me the summer I got a job in Lansing and lived with my grandparents. Our family was living in Escanaba and I can't really remember why I got this job in Lansing (at Sears) instead of working at home that summer. I'm sure we had a Sears store in Escanaba. In any case, as lovely as Grandpa and Grandma Rinehart were, life at 210 Regent St. with two elderly grandparents was not the most exciting for someone in her late teens. I didn't have any friends in Lansing. Phyl and Gerry were young enough that spending time with them on many occasions provided a great relief and were a high point of my summer. They were so great to me.
It was that summer, on the verge of adulthood, that I first began to interact with my aunt and uncle less as a child and more as another (almost) adult. That was when I learned to appreciate Gerry's low-key sense of humor. And, subsequently, in various big family gatherings, it is a quality of his that has stood out. We are a large extended family of noisy, talkative, opinionated people. (Well, quite a few of us are- and you know that's true, siblings and cousins, so don't get all huffy with me.) Jerry seemed to just enjoy all the carrying on.
Michigan State University has lost one of its biggest fans this week and we've lost a favorite uncle. Phyl, Teri, Lisa, Tim, Eric, Steve, Mary Ellen - you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Gerry with Teri and Kim at our 2007 family reunion in Michigan:
and with Aunt Phyllis and their grandson, Aaron:
More memories and photos of Uncle Gerry on Ann's blog today.