We lost one of the great ones last week. My Uncle Clarence passed away earlier in the week. He was my mom’s brother and is pictured in the middle of the bottom row, above. They are part of a family of 18 kids, and yes, they all have the same parents. My grandparents passed away at the ages of 84. 2 of those children passed away in childhood, but 16 of them grew to adulthood. Now, my mom, #8, (pictured in the center above, with the curly hair) and her youngest brother David, #17, are the only two left.
It was hard when Mom last her last sister. There were originally nine, and only three of them were redheads like her. Losing her sisters was hard, but her goal was to live to be the oldest surviving sibling. My Aunt Blanche, the tallest girl pictured above, died on her 86th birthday, so Mom had said she had to live to be 87. I pointed out that she really only had to survive to the day after her birthday to win the “oldest surviving” crown. She will be 88 next month. She’s not necessarily happy about it, as she doesn’t see why she is still here, but it is what it is, and she’s independent and sassy as ever.
Uncle Clarence was something of a patriarch. He was the uncle who stepped in when their oldest sister died of breast cancer, and took in one of her kids. He also was a father figure to one of their oldest sister’s kids, whose parents got divorced due to their father’s alcoholism. He had a big heart and did a lot of things for a lot of people, and was funny as hell. He will truly be missed.
The picture above only shows 12 of the 18 kids. Will, the tallest, was killed in World War II. John, to my mother’s left, was killed when a car fell off the jack while he was working under it, and Edmund, one of the twins in the front, died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in his car, after a night of partying. Our family has, like others, seen its share of tragedy, probably more than usual because of how large it is. But as you can tell, we are a family of survivors, and we will plunge on, missing those we’ve lost along the way.
May you all find strength and peace as well.