When love shines through


I remember very vividly the first time I met Uncle Gerry. We were not blood relatives, I was inheriting his acquaintance alongside many other aunts and uncles and cousins by virtue of being married to Jim. We were in at Mom’s house in St. Louis, Uncle Gerry and Aunt Jane and their two kids were visiting, as was I.  The kids were running around exploring the yard. Mom, Jane, Gerry and I were in the family room looking out at all the activity.  I mentioned to Gerry I was studying Anthropology and his quick reply was "My son Adam just loves dinosaurs. Well he even knows all the different periods and types of dinosaurs that walked the Earth."  I took a step back and admired the amazing love and pride for his son that poured out of this man. I thought to myself, I wanted that some day. My thoughts then quickly went back to the conversation as I added "Well you just might have an archeologist on your hands! It is a beautiful thing when one has a passion and a drive so early on." I could see the father entertaining that briefly before adding, "who knows?.."

Heck! I thought, I don’t even know the names to all the prehistoric eras or half the names of all the dinosaurs.  It was in honor of this singular moment that later that year, as Jim and I drove by Dinosaur National Park in Colorado, I purchased a laminated huge diagram that mapped the evolution of many species from through the different periods to modern day fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. Secretly, I wanted to be ready, shore up on my prehistoric evolution just in case Adam ever came to visit. To this day, I have this poster in a safe place.­

I felt so blessed and thrilled to be inheriting so many new exciting and fun people. I looked forward from then on to meet the rest of the family. Over the years I had the pleasure of visiting my new extended family in Michigan.

The next time I saw Uncle Gerry was during my first trip to Michigan. I was pregnant with my first born.  It was the summer of 1998.  Gathering at his house with all the aunts, uncles, Grandma and all the cousins felt so right.  It was to become a secret pleasure of mine when we went up North.  All the family under one roof, talking, debating arguing, laughing, it was a literary moment, and more poignantly, it was immensely fun.

Speaking of fun, I made another mental note when I visited Gerry and Jane’s house that first time: "I want someday to have the same joy Uncle Gerry had showing us around his house." At this point in my life we had not had a home to call our own. But seeing Uncle Gerry pin point all the little things he had designed, wired, built and made. It just seemed fun.

Looking back, I can only imagine Uncle Gerry in mid story with the corners of his mouth smiling as he talked.  He exuded such passion and love for all he touched and did. I saw it when he talked about his kids, when he interacted with Aunt Jane, when he talked about the sound system and lights in his house.  He was a rare mix of laid back and passionate zest with a twist of enginerd.  

His passion was contagious. for every time I spent time with Uncle Gerry and Aunt Jane, I was left wanting to make sure I knew my dinosaurs, wanting to tweak it our house to be our home, and wanting to have my home echo with the lively chatter of friends and family.  I look back and  it seems clear that he loved deeply and it shined through for us all to see. The world needs more examples as evident, as memorable.