July 15, 2007

And then there were four


Generations, that is.

Saturday morning marked the passing of my great-great-uncle Mote, succumbing to cancer at the age of 97. Mote was the last remaining member of his generation of my family, and he had served as the family patriarch, in a way, for the past several years. We were fortunate enough to have him with us for that long, and long enough for him to meet the fifth generation, the children of my cousins, over the past three years.

I've written before about how pleased I am with my family, and how blessed I am to be related to them. I can't say I knew Mote all that well, given how far apart we were in age and geography, but I certainly had (and have) a great deal of affection for him. It's always tough, when you're a kid, to relate to the much-older generations, and by the time you are old enough, there just isn't enough time. But Mote was the grandfather-type with the gruff, gravelly voice and twinkle in his eye, and he was always happy to take a few minutes out to chat with us kids.

I do have one Mote moment, which will always serve as characteristic of him in particular and my family in general. This part of my family tree, my father's mother's side, has bi-annual reunions, where as many of us as possible get together in Ithaca, NY, and catch up. It's been a tradition for at least as long as I've been alive, and will hopefully continue for decades to come. In 2000, we had a double celebration, my grandmother's 80th birthday that year, and Mote's 90th. It was a lovely weekend all around (and it was also the site of the summer-prank story I referred to in the past post). But the funniest conversation I had all weekend was with Mote.

Mote comes walking by, and I inquire as to how he's doing. He says, "You know, I'm a little tired. I think I might be getting old." Now bear in mind, he's turning 90. I chuckled, and asked what brought this on. He then told me about the week leading up to the reunion. He had, in the seven days previous, done the following:
- played 18 holes of golf
- resurfaced/resealed his driveway (and yes, by himself)
- he and his wife, on the way to Ithaca, stopped and picked $25 worth of blueberries, so they could take them around to their friends, who were in many cases much younger than he was, who couldn't get out themselves (and blueberries were running at $0.75 per pound, by the way).

He spoke of these things as though it was the perfectly normal activity level for someone his age. I was tired justs thinking about it. So naturally, I told him that the kind of week he'd had would wear anybody out, even a strapping young lad like himself, and that I was sure he'd recover as quickly as ever. That, in a nutshell, was Uncle Mote. And by the end of the weekend, he would curse the heavens for raining and preventing him from mowing his daughter's lawn for her (who is my parents' age, give or take).

I'll always remember the big sunglasses and the big smile, on display for the whole weekend we would see him. He is survived by his wife, Dot, and an enormous extended family that will miss him dearly, all while hoping to have the kind of long, full life that he enjoyed himself.

And boy, did he enjoy it.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

I'm sorry for your loss. This is a great tribute. It sounds like he led a full, rich, energetic life.

WiB said...

Lisa,

You're very kind, thank you. He was a pretty remarkable guy, and if I enjoy my life half as much as he did, I'll be in good shape. It's encouraging that the old folks in my gene pool tend to be around a while, and they do so in pretty good health, overall. I just hope all that good stuff got passed down to me. :)

 
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