Friday, June 22, 2007

One hell of a life

I exchanged long-overdue e-mail messages with a couple of my cousins this week. We shared a few memories of our Uncle Stan, that strong-as-an-ox, still-relishing-his-work-at-84 man we remember whose penchant for practical jokes kept the entire extended family checking around corners during visits. Did my fondness for practical jokes come from him? It's hard to say. But maybe... just maybe.

Stan died Tuesday. Lung cancer finally took him down. I'm not sure whether or not he smoked -- my guess is he did, long ago -- but even if he didn't, having spent his life in the Army during World War II and the balance of his working years in a rock and gravel quarry, something like that was bound to get him.

All of that toil bought him one hell of a life, though. Five kids. Ten grandkids. Innumerable nieces and nephews. Friends everywhere. Every one of whom will remember him with fondness and love, even if they did all fall victim to at least one practical joke over time.

Although I don't subscribe to the belief, I had to smile at one comment from one cousin. She was wondering whether "the man upstairs" would be ready for Stan's practical joking. When I posed that question to my dad, he said -- with a smile in his voice -- "No." And there's a part of me that wonders if anyone requested that the casket be short-sheeted.

As will so many, I'm going to miss him.

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