Monday, December 19, 2011

Last of a Generation

I grew up in Los Angeles. Southern California was filled with Aunts & Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents and a huge group of friends who all were like family. We spent lots of time together: barbeques, picnics, beach trips, camping trips, visiting back and forth in each other's homes. There were weddings and parties and holidays and school performances filled with relatives. Growing up I had no idea how blessed we were to have such a hord of relations. My Aunt Betty (Brenda Elizabeth) and Uncle Bill and Cousin Bob lived directly across the street on our cul-de-sac. We were all not only friends, but family. And if you weren't actually blood relatives it really didn't matter.

Aunt Lulu (Lucianna) and Uncle Paul lived in Lawndale just a stone's throw from our house. Although all of their children had been born in Illinois by the time I knew them they were Southern Californians. They had the very first color TV in the family (years before my folks got one) and I remember watching the Rose Parade one New Year's Day at their house. There must have been 60 people crammed into their living room all oohing and ahhing over this small, nearly circular screened TV and saying that the green faces of the hosts "looked so wonderful." We marveled over that color TV.

On Christmas Day their family would come to our house to see what Santa had brought. Their youngest child was four years older than I so now I can see the humor in it all. Uncle Paul always brought a FIVE pound box of See's Candy. We were in heaven!

Here's a picture of the Clacks: Aunt Lulu, Carolyn (about 6 or 7 in this photo), Uncle Paul, Kenny (16) and Eddy (14). I don't know if Peggy was already in college, but she's not in the photo. They are standing in our driveway in Los Angeles. As you can see the house across the way isn't quite finished yet. I was two and a half when we moved into this house (my very first memory is being entrusted with holding a lamp on the way to moving into the house).

Why are we walking down memory lane? Aunt Lulu, my father's oldest sister passed on last month at age 96. She still drove (and drove well!) up until just a couple of months before she passed on. She had the blackest hair, and when she smiled her eyes sparkled. Her laugh was a tinkling sound. And she laughed liberally throughout her life.

Uncle Paul was a Jack LaLane follower. He took vitamins and supplements and worked out in a gym. He didn't laugh, he chuckled. He was always throwing children up in the air and catching them (except the one time he dropped my brother Pat!). He loved to fake punch people in the stomach and then ask them to hit him hard in return. He was proud that you could never hurt him when you punched. His entire face scrunched up into one big grin when he smiled.

I got a call yesterday that Uncle Paul had passed away. I think he was 98. I last saw them when Dad married Willie in Bement, IL, the old home town. They had moved back many years before. Uncle Paul's dementia was showing some then and just over a year ago he'd moved into a specialize care center. The last time I saw him though, Uncle Paul made a muscle and then asked me to hit him in the stomach! His grin was huge and he hugged me hard.

And so, the last of a generation has passed. My cousins, my brothers and I are the older generation now. I remember how I couldn't wait until I got to sit at the grown-up table on holidays and when I finally got there I realized it was more fun at the kid table. I don't know if I'm ready for to be the older generation....sometimes I'd rather be a kid.


yorkie mom said...

Hugs, I'm at the adult table now also.

Linda Wallin said...

My mom is 96 and the last of her generation. I can so relate to your writing. Very nice reading.

Linda Wallin