Monday 17 January 2011
Last Monday, my favorite uncle died. Uncle Lloyd was the last of five siblings.
My dad, LaVerne, was the youngest and the first to leave us when our daughter Katie was only one year old. We lived in the States and Uncle Lloyd lived in Canada, but whenever we saw him, he easily stepped into the role of grandfather for Katie. That was a familiar role for Uncle Lloyd, who was the best grandpa ever for his own grandchildren and assorted others like Katie.
When Katie was two, Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Liz visited us in New Hope, Pennsylvania. For some reason, Katie called him "Man" and her imperious little voice resounded through the rooms with "Man, do this!" or "Man, do that!" Uncle Lloyd would give her pony rides on his leg and when he would stop (from exhaustion, I'm sure), our princess would wheedle, "Just one more time!" while holding up a finger in case he didn't get the point. And Uncle Lloyd would always oblige with "just one more time".
When Katie was five, she and I visited Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Liz in their winter digs in Panama City Beach. The first morning, Katie and I were awake long before anyone else and we hopped in the car, found a donut place, and enjoyed a solitary walk on the beach, watching the sun rise. Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Liz were horrified at what we had done. They opened the refrigerator door to show us all the food they had stocked up. "Look," they said. "There is no need for you to go out to eat. Eat here!" Nonetheless, Katie and I woke early the next morning and snuck out to the car for our private together time on the beach ... only to find that Uncle Lloyd had used his car to block our escape. Busted, we returned to the house and hit the fridge.
On the same trip, Katie was learning to ride a two wheeler. Uncle Lloyd, who had recently had triple bypass surgery, would stand at one end of the street and I at the other. He would start Katie off on her shaky solo flight and then run along beside her in case the wobbling became catastrophic. And when we went to the beach, Uncle Lloyd took along a shovel - the real kind, not those flimsy plastic things - and he and Katie dug a trench about the length of the Suez Canal.
Uncle Lloyd overcame many obstacles in his life. He was a survivor who did not complain. Over the last few weeks, his body began to shut down, no doubt just plum tuckered out after all those years of loving and being loved. He was 93 years old. And, although we will miss him, we know it was his time.
As is always the way, the funeral brought the family together in a way that we haven't seen since my grandparents died and years later the farm - we called it "Over Home" - passed out of the family's hands. Cousins flew and drove in from all over the world. It was a fitting tribute to a man who had brightened our lives and whose heart - triple bypass and all - was big enough to hold us all.
Goodbye, Uncle Lloyd. Rest in peace.
|"Over Home" Cassel, Ontario. The barn burned down and was resurrected with a real Mennonite barn raising.|
|Every Sunday, about 30 adults would sit around the long "adult" table Over Home and the kids would sit at their own table.|
|Probably the last photo taken of all the siblings. Our farm in Embro. Names of spouses in brackets.L-R back row: (Carmeen) Reuben (Jessie) Lloyd, Gladys (Irvin) Alvin Seated: (Hazel) (Liz) in front: LaVerne|
The following are photos I took the night of Uncle Lloyd's funeral when the extended family rebonded at Raym and Marybel's place. I was going to label everyone but figured those who really wanted to know already knew.