Friday, January 09, 2009

Uncle Leo

My Uncle passed away yesterday......he lived down the street from my grandfather and I basically grew up going from house to house in Lawrence, MA. All my older relatives are starting to pass away and we are starting and growing our families now. The only unfortunate thing was that he had to see two of his daughters pass away before him. One had passed away from cancer and one from debilitating M.S. I'm sure that nobody wants to see any of their children die before them (that is my greatest fear) and he had to suffer the loss of two.

I knew it was going to be soon. He had a form of cancer and bad blood clots in his leg. I was not aware that it was as bad as it was until basically a couple of months ago. He was the De facto patriarch of the family after Grandfather passed away in '98. I didn't visit him in the bad state he was in for the last few months...I called my cousin (his youngest son who is my age) and apologized but he actually set me at ease "Don't beat yourself up about that...he didn't want a big deal about it anyway"...he put me at ease with that and I just sort of started to cry....of course after I choked up and told him I would see them this weekend and hung up the phone. This guy was an awesome uncle....he taught me to fish, camp, water ski, cross country ski and winter camping......and enjoy the outdoors for all its worth. I want to remember him as the bourbon sipping uncle that tied fishing flies to relax. I remember him with his magnifying glasses tying flies for what seemed hours upon hours at his cabin in the woods. He used to take my cousin and I camping with the Boy Scouts for weekends during the summer. In the White Mountains of New Hampshire. That is where I learned to fly fish for trout and then fry them up in Bacon grease left over from the morning breakfast. Let me tell you....there is nothing better than fresh trout fried in bacon grease....with the mountain air.....no less than 10 fish would suffice. My uncle was a big Lithuanian guy....and his son soon became another big Lithuanian guy. He was a straight talking no bullshit guy that loved nothing more than to go fishing and camping. He took his son and I night fishing in his boat on that lake on the N.H.-Maine border quite often and I never realized how important that was to my growing up. We caught pickerel, perch, and small mouth bass...some where almost trophy sized. I never knew what Lithuanian was until I learned by looking on a map when I was young. I have a real mix of nationalities in family history....I noticed this tiny country that used to be part of the U.S.S.R. back then...wacky.
I never knew anybody could derive pleasure from tying fishing flies for endless hours....it seemed so boring. During the days at the camp we would go fishing and water skiing off the back of his motor boat. I even learned to drop one ski and continue on one for the rest of the summer. Every night he go to his rocking chair while we played card games at the kitchen table in the cabin....he would get his bourbon and get his fly tying kit out. He had thousands of them...all different colors and he practiced constantly. Out of that love of a boring hobby came a lifetime of fun. He bought books on it and studied about the intricacies of threading the perfect fishing fly....
I never really thought about how similar it was to spending countless hours in front of a game (that's what Poker is....just a game) trying to fish for a prize....all while spending countless hours studying and practicing techniques and strategies. My uncle was a great part of my growing into the man I am today....and for that I thank him forever. Thank you Uncle Leo....R.I.P.

6 comments:

Peter said...

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goooooood girl said...

i like your blog......

BamBam said...

Sorry to hear about your loss P.D., our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

lj said...

sorry for you loss...

PokahDave said...

Thanks for condolences everybody....except Gooooooo Girl what a pain.....

lightning36 said...

Touching tribute to your uncle, Dave. So many of us have been blessed with people in our lives who have enriched us or helped make us who we are today. Hopefully your memories will help you at this time and bring a smile to your face in the years ahead. Sorry for your loss.