On April 12th, my uncle, my mother’s brother, died. He was 71. For the last week and a half, I’ve been in PA helping my parents go through Uncle Ralph’s stuff. He had a lot of stuff. He was a collector, not necessarily of things that were worth much, but of things he liked. He collected sports memorabilia, coins, first day covers, and records. He kept meticulous records for most of his life (until he got very sick). He even kept decades old speeding tickets and college report cards from the 60s. He is probably the only person on the face of the earth who read every investment prospectus and report he got.
He had some very, very good friends. People that would’ve done anything for him and he’d’ve done anything for them. One of them is in his late 70s and lost his wife just a couple years ago. He told me that he bumped into Uncle Ralph at their community mailboxes not long after they had both moved in in 2001. That started a wonderful friendship that he knows, at his age, he’ll never have like it again. Another friend told me that it’s hard to have see pictures from the time I was tiny and hear all about about me, my siblings, my children, and my nieces and nephew and what we were doing every time they came visiting and not think they know us all intimately.
Uncle Ralph never married and never had any children. He was as proud of us and our children as if we were his own kids and grandkids. He loved to give gifts and truly got extreme pleasure from watching us open them. Somehow, he always got us the perfect gifts. Every year the biggest “hits” on Christmas were always from Uncle Ralph. He enjoyed sports and watching movies. He took the option for early retirement from the government and spent the next few years going to every movie released, no matter how good or bad it was. He also loved food. He never cooked and instead ate out for nearly every meal. One restaurant in town would start cooking as soon as he walked in. They knew exactly what he wanted. My mom ended his obituary with the following: “In lieu of flowers the family requests you take your family out to dinner and think of Ralph.” That is quite a fitting tribute. He really lived a good life.