As a kid I spent my summers in my Dad's home town of Mount Vernon, NY. I stayed with my Grandma Connie and my Great Uncle Tom. One particular day sticks out to me as one I will never forget.
I was playing baseball in the huge back yard, where the beaten down garage served as our backstop and the massive roots of the old trees served as bases. The game was really just me and the neighbors kid Jack Welsh. We played as we normally do and got hot as we normally did. Then the best part of summer in Mount Vernon, Grandma says, "Who wants some Italian Ice?" Of course we obliged with excitement.
The Italian Ice we were going to get were more like Gelato and hand made by a guy at the set of stores in a small strip mall down the street. I remember vividly how good the chocolate ice tasted and that I always wanted more. I miss those ices.
When we got back to the house we sat in the shade and drank Grandma's lemonade and cooled off a bit more. My Grandma and Great Uncle Tom sat with us in some outdoor folding chairs.
And then it happened. Out of the clear blue on a beautiful summer day a Monarch butterfly landed on Great Uncle Tom's head. What makes this funny is his hair is like Jason Alexander's (known to some as George Costanza), bald on top and hair around the sides. It was one of the funniest things I had seen in my few years on this planet and was forever etched in my memory.
My Great Uncle Tom was one of the most caring, funniest, and loving individual I ever had the pleasure to know. Always put a smile on face and always knew how to. He had owned a bar way back in the day and one of the pool tables was past on to my Dad and then resided in my apartment for years. When Great Uncle Tom was in the hospital in NJ for heart surgery, I went and saw him every day and every day he told me I was too young to be hanging out in a hospital with an old man. "Go have some fun", he would tell me. But I stayed anyway. Loved my Great Uncle to death.
On Sunday July 8th, two days before he was scheduled for another heart surgery, I received a phone call from my Dad that my Great Uncle had past. I broke down and wept and then pulled myself together as he would have told me to "be a man". I didn't get to make the journey to upstate NY for his funeral, but I was there in spirit. I plan to go visit his grave in the near future.
I wanted to share this with everyone, but most of all I wanted my Great Uncle Tom to know how much I will miss him and how much I loved him. RIP Great Unc.
Above is (from left to right) my Grandma Connie, Great Uncle Tom and Aunt Rosie. Only my Aunt Rosie is still alive.