Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lessons from my Uncle

If this blog was all you knew about me -- my life must sound like a picnic.  Of course, I have the same ups and downs everybody else has.  I just don't WRITE about them.

Which is why I took the blog break.  It really was about that old credo, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all..."  At the time, so many people round me were dealing with such big issues -- my little blog writing just didn't seem to matter...

Thanks again for the emails and letters during my blog break. I appreciate your efforts to cheer me up -- and you did.  I want you to know I'm fine.  My family is fine.  We are a lucky, grateful bunch here in our Iowa cornfield...

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My Uncle Melvin was 83 years old.  He lived a wonderful life, and he was ready to let go.  Organized religion was not part of his life. So, when it was time to plan his actual funeral, many options seemed unsuitable. His wife, Kathy, decided to let the family do the service. I was honored when she asked me to speak.

I wrote it so Ross could read it if I was too emotional.  As I worked on what I would say -- I had to start way back, when I was 7 years old.  I simply talked about who he was to me and my family.  I won't bore you with the whole thing (it was long..)

But I do want to share the last few paragraphs....

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Here some things I learned from Uncle Melvin about how to have a happy life. He never had many rules -- so I am calling them lessons:

  • NEVER lie or cheat. It will ALWAYS bite you in the ass…
  • PARTICIPATE: Attend every celebration, and always accept a dinner invitation. (Especially if it comes from my sister Deena)
  • TRAVEL wherever you can, whenever you can. It will give you a sense of wonder…
  • FRIENDS matter.  You have to be a friend to have one and good ones will last a lifetime. (and you never know when you might need one of them to build a ramp up to your front door…)
  • WORK hard and take pride in what you do. Work gives your life a rhythm and a purpose.
  • LAUGH whenever possible. If you do a prank right -- they’ll be talking about it for 50 years…(Uncle Melvin hated foreign cars. 30 years ago, his neighbor bought a Toyota Corolla and he loved bragging about the great gas mileage. Uncle Melvin started to sneak over at night and put gas in the Toyota's tank…one week, 25 mpg, the next week, 35 mpg, eventually an amazing 63 mpg…the guy was bragging ALL OVER TOWN.  Then -- Uncle Melvin stopped adding gas…and started to siphon it out instead…)
  • HAVE HOBBIES. Do something with your hands. Ideally, you will make something, then give it away as a gift…
  • BE KIND. Build people up whenever you can, and never tear them down. People will always remember the way you made them feel. Uncle Melvin always made me feel like I was the most important person in the room…
  • SHARE your life with somebody you love. That's what makes it matter...

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