An Uncle like Harold

Harold passed away yesterday morning, which I’d been anticipating for a few years.  But it still seems unfair – as if certain people should live forever.

My earliest memory of him goes back to the summer I turned 13.  He’d been in the airforce, so seldom seen.  But here he was in our home, escorting my grandmother on her first visit since my grandfather had died.   How like him to want to take care of her.

In those days – the ‘fabulous fifties’ – I was known as a ‘difficult teenager’.  My parents had arranged for Harold and Grandma to take me out west.  I was oblivious to the fact that they needed a break from me and my ‘emotionality’.

We travelled by car for three days, through the U.S. around the Great Lakes – a great adventure, to my mind.  And thus I began to know ‘everyone’s favourite uncle’.   He fuelled that trip with laughter and I am left with the memory of lightheartedness I seldom experienced in that phase.   He mentioned once, casually, that I was pretty —   as if it could be ‘casual’ to a young girl with a completely negative self-image.   This was the emotional equivalent of winning a lottery, I suppose and I never forgot it.

Throughout my adult life, he would come and go, always warm, smart, witty, and open-minded.   He was an important player in all family gatherings – especially the extended family reunion in Manitoba in ’92.  He was the star, in a never-to-be-forgotten schoolbus ride around locations of family history, with his educational – and hilarious – commentary over a megaphone as he drove.   I have video of that adventure, worth replaying occasionally, for the happiness it evokes.

By that time, he had been through a broken marriage, and the tragic accidental death of his only child.  I was sure this would change him; but he remained the same uncle: caring, generous, open-minded, philosophical.  I was so lucky to have him in my life from time to time, like spice, or a glass of great champagne.  And there is a large group, and a whole new generation of relations, who would have loving stories of their own to add.  I hope they will.

I imagine the world would be a better place, if everyone had an uncle like Harold.

This entry was posted in family culture, generous, kindness, loss, Memories, mourning, reflections, relationships, remembering childhood, uncle and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to An Uncle like Harold

  1. john zande says:

    Sounds like a great man. A salute to Harold.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh Patsy, I send you my sympathy. Yes, some people should simply go on forever. Uncle Harold sounds like a gem, despite the fact that his own life had dreadful sadness. What a wonderful tribute you’ve written to him. XX/OO Auds

  3. ladysighs says:

    “I imagine the world would be a better place, if everyone had an uncle like Harold.”
    I think many of us and maybe most of us have a special relative or friend that made our lives happier, richer, fuller.
    Perhaps the world would be a better place if the world just heard or read more about them than the sad news we always seem to be bombarded with.

    You have a real gift of writing your stories.

  4. Thanks so much – I feel heard :-) And this is not half of how much he made a difference in peoples’ lives!

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