Know what sucks about getting older? Everyone around you dies. Know what sucks worse? Not getting to be old. It’s the inbetween stuff that doesn’t suck that you need to remember to hold on to, everyone. It’s easy to forget. We all do. All the time. Remember and clutch your loved ones figuratively and literally whenever you can and when it is safe to do so. Okay? Okay.
First, friends, I want to take you back in time. Have you seen Senator Ed Markey’s campaign ads? That’s also where I’m from, but I’ve probably not walked around the streets of Malden as ironically nerdy and with as big a swagger. It’s where my dad was born. It’s where his brother was born. Yesterday, my uncle Fran shed his mortal coil. (Yes, that also seems a phrase he would have liked).
My dad and Fran got along fine, but they were really different. First, think of if Elvis Presley and Frankenstein had a love child. Okay, sorry, this is a fucked up obituary. Not as fucked up as some of the very rightfully angry folks eulogizing their loved ones lost needlessly to COVID-19, because, you know, government inaction killed them, but I’m just kind of fucked up sometimes, so forgive me this. And at least this wasn’t due to government inaction. So there’s that.
If Elvis and Frankenstein were crossed, that’s kinda what Fran looked like. Okay, whatever you are imagining… that’s it. No, fewer sequins. Younger Elvis. Older Frankenstein. You got it. He was very, very tall. No one else in my family is tall. He was well over six feet, and everyone else tops out at five seven, tops. He was a licensed electrician. He was messy, and even the Air Navy couldn’t drum that tendency out of him. He was easy going. Like, everything was fine. Not a tight “It’s fine!” like the rest of the family gives, but no, seriously, it’s fine. He, like most of that side of the family, had at least half of the preexisting conditions that should keep you out of living too long. For that side of the family, he had a damn good run.
But right now, here’s the image I have. My grandma was young when Fran was born. Babies weren’t born in hospitals then all the time. Grandma left her house midway down Webster Street and walked to the intersection at Maplewood, where, as I imagine it, even though I know this is not possible, Ed Markey’s dad drove the milk wagon past… and she climbed the stairs at the Baby Spewing Federalist Architecture House on the corner and spewed out a fully formed, six foot plus tall baby boy with his dark hair slicked back and to the side and a funny, easy going, crooked smile. And then her five foot two frame carried his six foot plus baby boy ass back down Webster to continue their lives.
There were four baby brothers and sisters and a lot of happy and sad and marriages and divorces and kids and grandkids and a parakeet somewhere in there… I’m going to leave the parakeet out of this, I think. There were a lot of cancers, and weird kidney things, and weird resurgences of cancers, and…
Fran got up every day that anatomy allowed it and went to work. I don’t think he was still working as an electrician because I kinda doubt he was bothering with keeping his licensing up and… he was older and I can’t imagine wiggling into crawlspaces and fiddling around behind drywall was his thang anymore. And being that he is my dad’s brother in many ways, I think he probably felt okay enough yesterday that he was going to go to work, and it’s just mid way through getting ready anatomy stopped allowing for it. It sounds like it was, at least, peaceful, as far as those things go. And look, I am related, so I can’t say for sure that he isn’t where ever it is he may have been transferred to saying to himself, “Oh, damn, nah.. nah… I’m sure I’ve had a worse headache. I probably just need a bath in a tub of caffeine. I’ll be fine. Wait… Oh. Crap. I knew I’d call this wrong eventually. Hey, since I’m no longer… Is it all right to smoke here?” But I’m hoping that really anything painful was quick and limited.
He was kind of a cool guy, and I didn’t see him much as I got older, but he was always really… cool. It was funny. He was terrible at being married and he always warned people… I don’t know why necessarily things fell apart, but it wasn’t that he didn’t care – but then, maybe it was that, eh, he didn’t care. Perhaps it is more like he was a variant of the weird old New England stoic. Emphasis on weird, and stoic only applies to the shit maybe the people around you really need to know. I don’t know.
I will miss him though. Because that’s a thing I’ve learned. You don’t need to have seen or talked to someone a lot or even know so much about them to really miss them something fierce.