Saturday, January 22, 2011

Remembering My Uncle Tony

My Uncle Tony died of AIDS around this time in 2005. I just wanted to remember him with this thing I wrote on our Family forum at the time.

I can't believe how awful the music on the radio was in 1999.

Posted to the Oswego Carters Family Forum

"I have a lot to say. Ever since I found out I’ve been trying to remember as much as I can from my stay in Lemon Grove, so everyone could have a better picture of how his life was. Everyone sort of thinks of his life there as an exile, but he seemed so at home, and so cheery and welcoming. The first thing I noticed was how much of a Walecki he was, even after all those years of separation. His face, voice and mannerisms were so much like his sisters’. I even remember him using the word (words?) “moosh-a-moosh.” Most importantly, he had that Walecki-esque HEY! LET’S DRIVE AROUND AND LOOK AT THINGS! quality that I’m so glad I inherited. So that’s what we did. The first time I saw the Pacific Ocean, it had Pagan (his dog) running around in it. My first (bright red) California sunset was seen from the top-down back of uncle Tony’s Jeep, while speeding down the freeway. (I’m bringing pictures.)

One of my happiest memories so far is sitting on Uncle Tony’s futon smoking one of his generic (ew) cigarettes and watching him dance around the living room to The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.” (Possibly the only meaningful experience anyone ever had to The Offspring.) Life was so bright there and new and full of possibilities. Speaking of music, that “Every Morning” song was on like every five minutes that winter, and Uncle Tony said he’d heard the guy play it in the park in San Diego “back when the lyrics were X-rated.” Uncle Tony was so cool that he saw Jane’s Addiction play in a small club before they made it. I was always envious of that.

Back to Lemon Grove, I just remember everything being so bright: the bougainvillea, the lemon tree in their back yard. I remember him and Chuck and me cutting up these huge bright tomatoes for whatever we were having for supper. (Chuck: roommate or “roommate”? Uncle Tony said they were roommates and I assumed he'd told me the truth until I discovered that my friend Randy had also been playing that sneaky and highly unnecessary word game) ANYWAY, their house felt as welcoming as any other family member’s house would. There was a lot more neon, though, and a lava lamp, and a big fish tank but I don't remember what kind of fish.

Uncle Tony helped me get settled in California, and I don’t know if I was ever properly grateful. I hope he knew how much he’d helped me. He helped me find a place to live and met the grumbly old glass blower I rented a room from. He even helped me negotiate more scholarship money with the school. He lent me his bicycle and I didn’t lock it and it got stolen-I feel louty about that.

Everyone’s got their regrets about what they forgot to do: I promised to send him our wedding pictures and I never did. I hope someone did because he really should have seen them.

When I found out, I told my poet friends across the country, so all week people have been reading poems for him in different cities. He definitely deserves it. If they’ll send me the poems, I’ll make a book and sell them for charity. It’ll be called The Lemon Grove Project.

Love you all and see you soon. "

Hey, that book was pretty great.

1 comment:

  1. Well Jane you made me tear up with this one. I never had the honor of ever meeting your Uncle Tony but i feel like i did and knew him well after all the wonderful stories I have heard your family tell of him. I recall refering to him as 'Mac the Knife Uncle tony' after watching his (awesome!) rendition of Mac the Knife. He was one cool guy..or should I say pretty fly for a white guy! LOL I know he is watching you with a big grin and knows how grateful you are to have had him in your life. He obviously made a big wonderful impression on this world..I know he's missed.