Old people die every day. But on this day, my Uncle Joe died.
I can’t say that I knew him all that well. He and his family lived 90 miles away from us and all we really knew of him were his periodic visits to us. We never visited him, a story that says more about my parents than it does about him.
But the thing about Uncle Joe is that he was a writer.
Yes. A real writer. And a journalist. A newspaperman. That’s the paper he worked for, depicted above.
And he went to Syracuse University’s J-school. Same as me.
I don’t think it was an accident of fate, either.
Others in our family did other things.
Writing is what Uncle Joe and I did.
There’s a gene and a temperament for writing.
He got them.
And I got them.
Uncle Joe died at 89, a decade younger than his mother, the woman her grandkids called Mama, who nearly made 100 years of age.
And maybe even did, because records weren’t kept very well in 19th century Sicily.
But Uncle Joe died at a fairly ripe old age, an age some 15 years older than my mother and my Uncle Jack, his youngest brother were when they passed away.
I’m not sure what Uncle Joe thought about the fact that I became a writer, or if he even gave it any thought at all.
But I do know that on this, the day of his death, I remember again that we shared the same gift. Had the same love for words.
I won’t be passing my gift on.
But I hope that at least one of Uncle Joe’s children’s descendants find their way to the writing life.
I like to think they were all waiting for him today — his one true love, Aunt Barbara; Mom; Mama; Papa; Uncle Jack; his sister, Mary, who died in childhood; and even my Dad.
Was there a big reunion celebration in heaven today?
Complete with wine, pasta and the Italian Hour on the radio?
To my family: you worked hard here on earth.
Hope you’re having a blast in heaven.