Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Uncle Bennie passed away yesterday. He had defied the odds, and many predictions, for the last few years. Even before that, he'd had some physical challenges including several hip replacements, losing an eye, and being on dialysis. But for most of his life, he was very fit, an amateur athlete who excelled at handball, softball, and bowling. Just as my Auntie was like a second mother to me, Uncle Bennie was like a second father. Our families lived one block apart. I went through Sunday School and Hebrew School with my cousins and we often vacationed together.

As a kid, I didn't understand why my Dad was absent so often, but I was lucky to have Uncle Bennie in my life. He taught me how to swim, and ride a bike, and ice skate. He coached my brothers in every sport. He sometimes built a home-made ice rink in their backyard to help us get through those long winters. I thought he was movie-star handsome, a fact that was confirmed by my best friend, who always wanted to play at their house instead of mine.

It took me a long time to find these pictures, probably because Uncle Bennie was usually behind the camera. The smaller picture is at Bro 1's endless Bar Mitzvah gala. Auntie and Uncle Bennie on the left, my folks on the right. The photo below of the whole clan is so old that the little boy in front (Uncle B's first grandchild) now has three children! I am third from right, and Uncle B is second from right.

Uncle Bennie was devastated when my Aunt died at age 52, but his three daughters and their children were the light of his life. (He did find love later in life but sadly, his second wife lived only a few more years.) Uncle B took up painting and ballroom dancing in his later years. I marveled at his energy, creativity, and interest in the world around him. In spite of the difficulties he endured, Uncle Bennie was a gentle, kind and pleasant person who always saw the best in others. The world has lost another quiet hero.


tim's wife said...

So sorry to hear this. What great tales of living and loving you tell though. Sounds like your uncle did a lot of both in his years and I'm sure there was
a great reunion with Auntie at
long last.

John said...

My condolences. Your Uncle sounds like a terrific man.

I love the pictures. Your aunt's glasses are priceless.

Be well.

Lilsquirt64 said...

So sorry Nanc! What a beautiful tribute!

La Cootina said...

I will be getting a tape from his funeral service soon; I'm sure the many others who spoke did a better job than I did.

Thanks for your kind thoughts.