"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Grandma's Uncle

"Rudy was Grandma's Uncle, right?"

My son was inquiring about my mom's uncle who was also a firefighter all those years ago. I barely remember Uncle Rudy. He was my grandpa's younger brother and he lived in the same town as my grandparents - the one where my mom grew up and the one I still like to call "home".
Uncle Rudy's name has been mentioned a good deal in my household the last few years. My son became very curious when he found out that Rudy, too, was a firefighter. The town, at the time, had only a volunteer department, and it remains that way to this day. Sometimes it is beyond my comprehension that people do this job without getting paid. Regardless, my son and I were both very impressed when we saw the recently placed monument with a tribute to the firefighters from the history of the town. Uncle Rudy was number 6 on the list, even making the first line of the tribute. It made us proud. Here was history. Here was heritage. And it was a heritage my son wanted to follow. Here was a brotherhood with like understanding.

I think I was probably about 9 when Uncle Rudy passed. I barely remember him. I am not sure how he died. I believe he was relatively young when we lost him. My grandpa lived into his 80's and died in the 1980's; comparatively, it would have been the 1960's when we lost Uncle Rudy. I didn't grow up hearing a lot of stories about Rudy, but those I did hear, I remember well. My mom loved to tell how he was always the first one at the station whenever there was a call, so he always got to drive the engine. "And," she would emphasize, "he didn't have a car, so he would have to run all the way from his apartment to the station, still beating everyone else." She was proud of her uncle. And we are too.

I knew Uncle had never married, but I only recently learned why.  The story came up while visiting the county museum one day. A picture of a lovely woman caught my mom's eye. "She was Uncle Rudy's fiancĂ©," Mom told me. "But she called it off and broke Uncle Rudy's heart. He never found anyone else after that."

Please forgive my next statement. It is going to sound very corny and maybe even like I am mocking. I am not. I mean it from the most sincere part of my heart. Norwegians (which my grandpa and uncle were) are like geese. If you know anything about geese they only mate for life. If they are to lose their mate, they never mate again. That is who these two men are to me. Loyal, faithful, strong and independent; committed to their family. No pomp and circumstance, "no drama" as we would say today. Just "get the job done" men of dedication. Geese, while flying in formation, will take turns in the lead. When one tires, another will move to the front. That is looking out for each other. And that is also true humility.

Coincidently enough, that is exactly what it takes to be a firemen. That description, gives a bit more understanding why someone would have any desire to "volunteer" for such a position.
Lifetime of Service
So we have heritage. My son has the Norwegian blood and he has a fireman's heart. He has the heritage that allows him to do the job he has chosen. This is why in my house, we talk a lot about Uncle Rudy. I like that. How do we remember unless we speak? How do we know unless someone is mentioned? How do we carry on legacy unless we learn from someone's example? How do we keep a memory - a life - alive unless we tell stories and work to remember those who have gone on before us? Why ever, would we not?
Uncle Rudy never married. He had no children. There is no one to speak about the attributes of what was most certainly a fine man. There are very few who have remembered. I am glad my son has. I am so thankful he wants to know. He is proud of this heritage and so am I.

"Yes, son, Uncle Rudy was grandma's uncle."

1 comment:

  1. How special that his name is on the plaque so he's not forgotten! Neat story!