On Monday, my mam called me midmorning. As soon as I saw that she was calling, I knew something was going on because she wouldn’t normally call me during work. Even if work is being home alone and working in my basement office.
Sadly, she called with the news that my Uncle Tom, one of my dad’s older brothers, passed away unexpectedly Sunday night. I’m heartbroken for my Aunt June, their daughter Kathy, my mam and dad who were very close with him, and the rest of our family.
I haven’t gotten to see him much in the past several years, since we live in Alabama and the rest of our families live in Michigan, but I’ve always enjoyed Uncle Tom’s company. He was funny–all of my dad’s brothers are. He passed a lot of gas–all of my dad’s brothers do. And he was always happy to see me (and I him).
When I was little, I wouldn’t speak to him (or several of my other uncles on both sides of the family). I have no idea why. But he would bribe me to try to get a word out of me. I’d gladly take the candy for a promise to speak to him…and then I’d continue to hold my tongue. (I sound like a total brat, thankfully I do not remember myself at this age–haha). He persisted though, so that by the time I grew out of that weird stage, I was always happy to catch up with Uncle Tom.
And of course, the benefit of having an Uncle Tom Kruse when I was in elementary school was pretty amazing. I told everyone–literally everyone–that my uncle was Tom Kruse. And they (the children who couldn’t spell Cruise obviously, not the adults) all believed me because, technically, I wasn’t lying. It was a pretty cool party trick.
At family functions, I was his “bomb sniffing dog” when it came to onions. Uncle Tom would have me try some food from the midwestern spread of trays, and casserole dishes, and crock pots, testing them for onions. I, too, hated onions and would quickly spit things out and inform him not to eat that yellow stuff in the blue crock pot. He’d do the same for me if he ran into one of the pesky little things. He was devastated when I traitorously grew to love onions later in life.
Losing a loved one brings up so many questions and feelings and worries. And a feeling of helplessness. Feelings of lost time, and what ifs, and I wishes.
I’m going to choose to keep these happy, funny, silly memories of Uncle Tom close and keep the family in my thoughts, instead of dwelling on those feelings.
Love you, Uncle Tom.