The last of my hero uncles died last week. Wallace, at 86, was the youngest of five brothers who lived their lives within 10 miles of one another and had their own mutual admiration society.
Wallace (Wally) lived a short walk from us. He was a happy, friendly sort and the most outspoken of the five sons born to my grandparents. He was a farmer and a rancher like his dad. He lived with vigor and passed with honor.
Eldro (El), the eldest and a dairy farmer, lived the furthest away and we didn’t see him often, not near enough to suit my Dad. Eldro wore a small mustache and had the tall carriage and warm manner of his brothers.
Vincent (Vin) lived just a mile away. He was a dear man, a little more fun loving than my dad and could be counted on to pull our sleds behind his pickup on snowy winter days and even when he was an old timer in our eyes, actually got in the pool with us on our annual Downata Hot Springs excursions!
Douglass (Doug) was equally dedicated to family and having no wife or kids himself, he cared for our grandmother Mimi until she died at age 89. He was a man of the land as his brothers were, but showed it by growing flowers instead of crops. He alternately teased and spoiled us.
My Dad was the quiet one, devoted to Mom and us kids, he passed his unobtrusive ways on to my sisters and me.
They were all tall, dark and handsome. They loved us dearly and we cousins (there were 18 of us) grew up in a cocoon that we didn’t fully appreciate until much later when we were making our way in the world.
When my husband Mark learned of Wallace’s death, he said, “and then there were none.” And none seems forlorn indeed. My cousins and I look at each other now, a little shell-shocked, to consider that it’s our turn. How do we measure up? Do we accept the mantle of family leadership with any semblance of the respect we had for these men?
I’m not sure, but I think I can see marks of their integrity and honor in my cousins and siblings. Cindy showed her calm and resoluteness during the final days of Wallace’s life and throughout the funeral. Ginger fusses over the extended family with love, handing out heaping doses of guidance. Paul is soft and kind, putting others ahead of himself. Janene, my oldest sister, is a model of service. And that’s just for starters.
We’ll do okay, we had good teachers.
|Doug, Wallace, Vin, Eldro, Fred|
Movie star quality - right?
|Sharing a laugh at their childhood home|
Fred (my dad), Wallace, Vin and Doug
already missing Eldro