Sadly, my Great-Uncle Sy (of Blessed Memory) just passed away. He was age 87. He was a wonderfully quirky man. A socially conscious, health-conscious CPA and avid bicyclist, he ate greens with leporine fervor, pedaled to work and bicycled up and down the East Coast with his kids, my cousins (first cousins, once removed, if you want to be technical about it…which you probably don’t). I think he was more comfortable on a bicycle than driving a car, if wearing a helmet while doing the latter was any indication. (No, he didn’t drive a Jeep, where a helmet could potentially be a good safety device. It was a Subaru, known more for love than rollovers.)
Perhaps the best encapsulation of Uncle Sy was the wisdom he shared one Thanksgiving dinner: “It’s all bullshit, Marc.” A bit much for a five-year-old to fully grasp. But the older I got, the more I understood what he was talking about. It was a cautionary expression of what too often feels like the futility of many aspects of life. Life doesn’t always operate on the merit system nor always reward kindness and goodness. (But enough about the Election.) Yet there was also a playfulness and implicit hopefulness in his words, a knowing resignation of its truth, while gently poking at its fatalism.
I miss him and my late Aunt Iris, who sadly passed five months earlier, though thankfully, he did not know, a rare “benefit” of his dementia. She, too, was wonderfully quirky and edgy. She voiced her strong opinions in a voice that resembled Marge Simpson’s. Though I’m still slightly scarred from when she (Aunt Iris, not Marge) ran naked through the house when we were children, I admire that she wanted to donate her body to the Harvard Medical School for research (but not until she had died). I remember my great-aunt and great-uncle with fondness and an appreciation of their free spirits—may their memories always be a blessing.