Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just say Uncle

In the United States, the expression "say uncle" or just "uncle" may be used to indicate submission, such as when wrestling, or a cry for mercy in a game.  However, when someone says uncle at our family gatherings, the phrase takes on a whole new meaning.

With several generations of large families, the number of aunts and uncles can't be counted on one hand; in fact, the total number can't even be counted on two hands.  However, each has a unique personality and is loved for those personal qualities.  My Mother's youngest brother was just that.  To us, he was known as Uncle Lonnie but to most of his friends he was simply Larry.  I remember the many trips to Canada to visit the family homestead replete with moose "hunts", flat tires, and walks in the fields looking for wildlife and cranberries.  When my grandparents were living, he and his brother would chauffeur them to our house for Sunday dinner, bringing along the pastries from Lyndell's.  Once he moved into the Harbor Towers in Boston, he became a regular at Boston's Filene's great basement, just like my grandmother had been years before.  Markdown days became his specialty, and that was definitely a McNeil trait.  Lladro, cooper lanterns, and a host of other cherished gifts came from that downtown crossing store.

Yes, my uncle was a character.  He could make a mean fish "chowdah", something that he loved to do for his sister.  But most of all, he was a kind, gentle, unselfish gentleman with a strong commitment to his faith.  Now, whenever I see my younger brother sitting at his law desk, I am reminded of my uncle who saw the value in everything, as he "recycled" it from the statehouse.  We will miss you as you have enriched the lives of  your family and friends, and that is a legacy which is both priceless and can never be discounted!