My Uncle Gary passed away this day last year from pancreatic cancer. This is what I wrote for his memorial service.
“Look at your fingernails.”
“OK, now what?”
I’m not sure why this particular exchange is what keeps popping into my head lately. But maybe it’s because it reminds me of my uncle’s willingness to just go with whatever weird thing I said as a kid. I was about 10 or so and slowly working my way through a book of random games and facts I’d been given. (Apparently boys and girls tend to look at their fingernails differently.) I have a lot of memories from this visit—discussing the TV show Wishbone and which classic book had become my favorite, talking about falling asleep while reading, and how you can remember anything longer if you sing it. These were all things that we talked about together. I think maybe the reason that some of these types of memories come to mind is that as the youngest member of the family, it was nice to have someone acknowledge what was important to me at the time.
Contrary to what most of the family might think, I actually do remember the incident in which the smallest fisher of Lake Elizabeth caught its largest resident, and was subsequently almost pulled into the water. I was fairly proud of myself for catching this illusive fish, even if he did eventually get away. I also remember when I did finally get a fish out of the water, a sunny, and wanted a picture. But goodness knows, I didn’t want to TOUCH this fish—so Uncle Gary held it next to me and stood outside of the photo’s frame.
Most of the rest of my memories include Gary’s laugh or a hilarious joke. There was a definite difference in a gathering pre- and post-Gary’s arrival. My husband got to spend his first real time with Gary last summer. We were up for my cousin’s wedding and went with my brother and sister-in-law and dad to see the new house. Aunt Sue gave us a tour and we saw the neighborhood. We had a nice time, but the entire atmosphere changed when Gary arrived home from work. He always managed to make everything a party, everything was fun and everything was a joke. We had a great time out on the lake and I’m really glad that was the last activity I did with him.
After the visit, my husband and I were talking about how funny Gary is. I told him how I thought he made the Daoust family look more fun. We talked about how it’s the in-laws in both of our families that seem to bring that extra something that makes the family better in some way. Thanks, Uncle Gary, for bringing that extra something into our family.