Monday, December 17, 2007

Jesse Allen

My Uncle Allen, my mother’s younger brother, was eleven years old when I was born.

He looked like this:

By the time I was five or six Uncle Allen was in high school and MAN, was he COOL!

I worshipped him.

In high school, he looked like this:

His high school bedroom at my Granny and Ady’s house was perpetually dark and draped in miles of chain link made from beer can pull-tabs.

It was the quintessential teen-aged boy cave.

When Uncle Al wasn’t home I would raid his room, read his Mad Magazines and eat his secret stash of bite sized Almond Joy candy bars.

He never seemed to mind.

One year, Uncle Allen organized all the students in his high school woodworking class to make furniture for the dollhouse my Grandfather was building for me for Christmas.

On Christmas morning I noticed that the underside of each piece of dollhouse furniture was signed by the high school friend who made it.

Uncle Al and his high school friends made me feel like the luckiest kid in the world.

[I wanted to name the dolls Syphilis and Gonorrhea, but that is another story...]

My Uncle Allen has always been a quiet, patient and incredibly kind person.

He doesn’t say much, but what he does say is always thoughtful.

This past weekend my mother, her sister Nancy and Uncle Allen traveled to Virginia to finalize the closing of my Granny's estate.

[It seems totally unfair to me that there is so much complicated administration required in death.]

My Aunt arrived at my Granny and Ady’s house first and turned on the lights, the heat and the water.

Their sister's early arrival made things easier for my mom and my uncle. They imagined Nancy’s arrival was much harder.

The three of them went together to the county clerk's office, the banks, the insurance agencies and elsewhere to close Granny's accounts and “finalize” things.

Their work went much more smoothly than any of them had anticipated and they were grateful for that.

They couldn’t remember the last time the three of them had been alone together.

Though they were all scheduled to stay through Sunday, my Aunt drove home a day early due to the weather report leaving my mom and uncle alone in their parents house.

On Saturday afternoon Allen went down to the basement to put together a new set of bunk beds.

After a few minutes my mom went downstairs to join him.

“I need to help you,” she told my Uncle.

“Oh?” he said.

“I can’t stay up there by myself.”

My Uncle nodded his head, understanding.

He looked up at her and said,

“I need your help.”

I was thinking about this story when I read a post Aliki wrote about a tribe that believes that the dead live again when their loved ones speak their names out loud.

[That may be true, but I'm still not speaking to my Granny though she is always at my side.]

I think there are other ways the dead live on.

I see so much of my Grandfather in my Uncle.

Uncle Allen answers the phone by saying "Howdy" exactly the way my Grandfather did.

Allen is my uncle's middle name, not his first name.

His full name is Jesse Allen, just like my Grandfather's.

Though all of his family members call him Allen, my uncle is called Jesse at his office.

On his resume my uncle's name appears as Jesse Allen. When his employer initially called him Jesse my uncle didn't correct them.

Most importantly, like my grandfather, my uncle is patient, understanding and kind.

I don't see my Uncle Allen often enough, though I have seen him at two funerals this year.

I wish he and I lived closer to each other.

My Grandfather lives on through my Uncle Allen. I see that now more than ever.

Today I am missing them both.


Holly said...

I think it's incredibly unfair that there is so much administrative buracracy with death too. This was a beautiful post. Your uncle sounds like an amazing man. Thank you for sharing him with us.

Avery Gray said...

I feel that way about my own uncle. He and my dad look so similar, though my uncle is older than my father. It's kinda like seeing what my dad will look like in ten years. My uncle is just the sweetest man alive. He had to have a triple bypass this last summer, and I thought I might never see him again. That scared me. You never know how much you love someone until there's a chance you might lose them.

Great post!

mimikatemom said...

Hello Ms. Silly,

First your brother and now Uncle Allen...must I fall hopelessly in love with all your kinfolk?


Again, your family resonates kindness. It gives me hope. :)


furiousBall said...

Patient gentle people always strike me as being the strongest.

I actually had this quote in my blog today..."Gentleness can only be expected from the strong"

Gretchen said...

Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your uncle with us.

Love the pictures!

flutter said...

Oh those kind, wonderful eyes.

Heidi Hyde said...

Another thoughful and beautiful tribute to your family. You are all so blessed to have eachother.


BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I absolutely adore your story telling. Thanks for sharing the love about your Uncle...he looks like an awesome guy. I know you are lucky to have each other.

g-man said...

A very lovely tribute to your grandfather and uncle. Nicely said. I do hope you all can get together more often.

mamatulip said...

Your family is so special to you, and I love reading about them, and picking up on that specialness from your posts.

Thanks for sharing them with us, and for reminding us time and time again of that supreme importance in our lives -- family.

LSM said...

I love the image of you at Christmas surrounded by new doll furniture signed by all those high school boys. And, even more of your uncle convincing all his friends to make those pieces for his neice. Now, do tell about the dolls' names!

Patience said...

I have two cousins who were totally way cool like your uncle. I still simply am in awe of them even though they are both now old grayheads in their 60's.

But they still are . . . cool!

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

Jessica: you have the most amazing way with words. I love the bond your family shares. I wish everyone had that - the kind of family I'm trying to create with my kids. Thanks for sharing. Your family is an inspiration to me.

QT said...

This is a lovely post, honey. Maybe you guys need to re-institute a family reunion of some type?

Loralee Choate said...

When my son died I was overwhelmed at the amount of official things I had to do and he was only 4 months old!

The thought of trying to wrap up an adult life and jump through all the hoops is just overwhelming to me.

I had a gaggle of aunts and uncles around me in my youth. They were very important to me. I understand.

Mrs. Chicky said...

You have the best family. The story about the doll house darn near made my heart explode.

zellmer said...

Great post. I have a crush on Uncle Allen.

Beck said...

He sounds like the best man in the world.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I love how your family seem to be able to give what each other need. don't know if that makes any sense, but, you seem to really listen to each other, and hear what isn't necessarily said.
Your Uncle looks like a really nice man.

Hol&J said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

He even looks kind.

Beautiful post.

mauniejames said...

I have three male cousins that look just like their Dad and also our grandfather..your uncles picture made me think of them..this was so beautifully written. I feel you gave us such insight into your family...and Y's post was sad I've cried twice today.....

motherbumper said...

Dude, you are so lucky that his stash was only made of almond joy instead of the typical other joy stash - otherwise that would have been pretty trippy.

Anonymous said...

And He his an amazing husband and father. I missed him very much while he was away with your Mom taking care of business. My heart was breaking that I could not be with him. We both read this and cried. He was very touched and so was I. After 27 years of marriage I still feel so lucky to have marriedjust the man you spoke so kindly about. Thinking of you and sending love Aunt Candy

theotherbear said...

What a great post. Thanks for telling this story.

jen said...

what a lovely tribute, friend. the closeness in your family is inspiring.

and thank you.

Kyla said...

This was so sweet, OTJ. You all are lucky to have each other.

Mrs. Chicken said...

I imagine your holidays will be especially hard. I speak my father's name aloud often, just to hear it.

This is a beautiful post, Jess. You are blessed with a wonderful family.

Omaha Mama said...

I had an Uncle Jeff with a trunk full of Mad Magazines. They seemed so naughty to me - and wonderful. Jesse Allen sounds so cool.

Aliki2006 said...

Oh J., what a beautiful, warm post. And those pictures--those eyes and those features so alike and alive.

Thanks for sharing this piece of your family. that's the wonder of it, too--that or loved ones live on in others. I see so much of my own grandmother in T. and that helps infinitely.

OHmommy said...

I have said it so many times before (maybe just to myself)... but you have the most amazing way with words.

And the pictures? He is just as handsome now as he was as a teenager. Sheesh... nice genes!

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I wish I had an uncle I felt this way about. My uncle is kind of crazy mad. This was a sweet post, I love what you realized in your uncle!

Am I doing okay? said...

I have an uncle Rick. He's 11 years older, which meant Playboy mags vs. Mad. Or at least that is how I remember it. Great post.

Mad Hatter said...

What a handsome man with soooo much character in his face.

Anonymous said...

I was looking into information on seeing your loved one after they die, as in walking around, and I came across this site:
It had a nice feel good message to it and I recommend checking it out.

dawn224 said...

love it.

I have an uncle who has a family name and a public name. His is on purpose though.

I love the story of the dollhouse.

CamiKaos said...

The doll furniture... what a story, what and uncle.

Jen M. said...

You know, you are just so sweet because it is so clear how obviously you value your entire family.

I love that.

suchsimplepleasures said...

i felt that way about my uncle rudy. he was my favorite grandfather...his brother. rudy was exactly the way you described your uncle...kind, patient and understanding. when my grandfather died, a part of him was still here...with my uncle. when my uncle died, last winter, more of my grandfather died with him. it was a terrible loss. both of them...and, i miss them.
that was a wonderful, what sounds like, a wonderful person...and, everyone who reads this post, i'm sure, can relate!!!
thank you for sharing!

Alex Elliot said...

Your uncle sounds absolutely amazing. I can't imagine how great it must have felt when you found out that he had your doll house furniture made for you.

JCK said...

The story of the dollhouse got to me. And your Uncle organized the furniture making for the dollhouse? And he was in highschool? Special. Special indeed. Lovely story.

Smiling Mom said...

What a story. Thank you so much for sharing.

Smiling Mom

Liza's Eyeview said...

(sigh) - It's wonderful to have such wonderful grandfather and Uncle.

Do you still have the doll furnitures? That was so sweet of them to make for you :)

Amanda said...

What a wonderful post on your uncle. I really did enjoy reading it.

I also grew up with an uncle I worshiped. Unfortunately, I didn't realize he was always so fun and crazy because he was high most of the time. These days, I just feel sad that he wasted his life and lost the trust of everybody, including me.

Elizabeth (Table for Five) said...

The thought of your Uncle getting all his High School buddies to make dollhouse furniture in wood shop so his little niece could have a special Christmas, well, that just puts a lump in my throat. What an amazing man he is. And yes, there is way too much bureaucracy involved when someone passes away.

-The Shiny Happy Mama- said...

Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your memories.

Anonymous said...

Oh Uncle Jesse Allen, you are gorgeous inside and out.

Scott said...

Great story, thanks for sharing it. Your writing is wonderful.

Ali said...

making a person tear up a work is not a very nice thing to do, you know.

just sayin' :)

what a nice post! you are so lucky to have your uncle in your life!

Victoria said...

Aww. He looks so sweet. When my grandpa passed years ago, I distinctly remember sitting at the funeral service, looking over at my Uncle Dave and thinking "Hmm. Grandpa is still here. He's just Uncle Dave now".

Best to you.

emh said...

Your blog is nicely done. I love the pictures.

Ponygirl said...

Wow, Jess. I loved reading this post. I don't remember ever meeting Uncle Allen and he sure does look like your Addy. PS I have to call you as soon as possible because I have great news to share. :)

Jill said...

I love your Uncle Allen-and I've never even met him!!! Great post.

alimum said...

you really have the most amazing is very inspirational.

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Your family rocks. Another lovely post.