Goodbye Uncle Bill!


I lost my Uncle Bill this week.  Most of you have never met him and have no clue, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is gone.  I have many fond memories about him, but none greater than this.  He loved my paternal Aunt Hazel with his whole heart.


He was married to my aunt for 54 years, and when she passed away 6 years ago he was never the same.  He was a broken man.  I am not sure how they will state his cause of death, but I know what it was.  He died of a broken heart.  Since my aunt passed six years ago he was never the same. 


My uncle’s laugh was famous.  It boomed wherever he was at, but sadly that laugh was not as loud, or as robust as it had been before my Aunt Hazel passed.  I remember sitting with him and telling him after she died that I loved him and that I hoped he knew that I would do anything for him if I could.  He reverted to something many men of his generation did when he masked his pain with a joke, by asking me if I could bring my aunt back.  His laugh after that comment was not robust, it was uncomfortable and I let it drop.


I am so proud of my family heritage and it was my father’s brothers who are as much my heroes as my dad himself.  My Uncle Bill, I am proud to say, was also one of those men that I revered and most of all loved.  I can’t pontificate about time in the woods like I could when my Uncle Frank and Roy died, but I can tell you of one way he touched me.


In my family seeing men serve their wives was not exactly the most common thing, but he would tend to and care for my Aunt Hazel with tenderness and warmth that was a great example to our entire family.  He and my aunt were the epitome of soul mates, and he very well would have rather sat with her and drank some beers while the rest of us hunted, but he would always be with her.  It was not a relationship built on co-dependency but it was one built on mutual respect and admiration.  He was a great example to the Carpenter family about husbands and wives being more than business partners and dictatorships, he showed us that the best relationships are when they are friends.  He wasn’t afraid to let her be right and he wasn’t a pushover.


I remember going to see my aunt at her work in Frandor selling shoes and how it was the only time in my life I ever saw them apart (before she passed) and the topic was always about Uncle Bill.  They were friends.


Tonight I sit here in my chair thinking about him, thinking about her.  I just gave my son Duffy a hug and I have to admit that I am sad.  Sad that he won’t ever get to not only know my wonderful uncles that I got my love of hunting from, but that he also won’t get to know the uncle that never told me he loved me, but he showed it.  More importantly he lived it.  My Uncle Bill may not have showered people with lavish I love you cards, but he no doubt was the greatest example of it in my family.


What makes me sad is that although I always felt this way about him, I never told him how much I respected him for it.  I wanted to a few years back when I was with him, but I let that old tough exterior keep me from it.  I just hope that some of him rubbed off on me, and he knew how much I respected him.  I told him I loved him, but not how much I respected him. 


I guess I am telling you, I hope that when I am dead that people will say that I was a lot like my Uncle Bill. 


My father, who is my hero, loved my Uncle Bill and for as long as I can remember has talked about how special it was that his sister was loved like that.  Uncle Bill gave us a lot of things, like I said; he wasn’t a hunter, but was always willing to hear about how we had done.  He wasn’t a sports nut, but always smiled with the chatter. 


You could always find him, however, laughing with the most distinct laugh, because just like he loved my aunt, he loved people.


Goodbye Uncle Bill.  I have no doubt you’re somewhere with Aunt Hazel tonight.  I just wish I had taken the chance a few years back when we were talking on my parents back porch to tell you how much I also respected you.


I am sad that I lose another hero, but I am determined to not let what you taught die.  I love you.


RIP