Uncle Eddie, my Lebanese uncle with whom I stayed when G. and I went to Lebanon in July 2008, died. He was old (in his 80s), he wasn't well, but, well, it's just really, really sad. G.'s mom, my tayta, was his sister, and now she is the only sibling left. And after all of the horrible losses that she's faced, this is just so heartbreaking on top of it. (She's already had to survive the death of her husband, the deaths of all her other siblings, and the deaths of 4 of her 8 children. It's just too much.)
Uncle Eddie, well, what can I say about him? The most appropriate thing that keeps coming into my head is that he reminded me of my Uncle Dick, the brother of my favorite little gramma (who died just around this time of year in 2003) who died when I was in grad school. Except that doesn't explain anything to you all. Other than that I loved them both from the same place in my heart.
Uncle Eddie immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1960s or early 1970s, I think. He got his citizenship, owned a business, married a Lebanese-American woman and made his life here. He sent his sons to Ohio State. He loved football with a passion, and he loved his sister and her children. When Tayta was so afraid during the civil war, when her children's lives were in danger, her brother sponsored her immigration, and with his help, she got her citizenship which was the first step in getting nearly her entire family to the United States. (Only one of her grandchildren remains in Lebanon - the rest of the family is all now in the United States. This is a pretty amazing feat, as you might imagine. Her grandchildren number in the double-digits - great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren added to that... well, you get the picture. My Lebanese family is even bigger than my blood-related family, and that's saying something given the fact that my mom was one of 10 kids and my dad was one of 7.) And he was G.'s favorite uncle, and G. made a point of introducing my mom to him when he first started dating her. He loved my mom. He was disappointed that my mom didn't come with me and George to Lebanon when we went. It's such a regret for me now that she didn't.
After Uncle Eddie's wife died, and once his sons were married and established, when he was ready to retire, he returned to Lebanon and has been there for the past 20 or so years. He remarried. Every day he put on his pants and dress-shirt, and a cap, and went into Batroun to do any small shopping that needed to be done. When he returned home, he'd put on his shorts and his t-shirt and relax.
He taught me to play quatorze (a game sort of like rummy, though it involves gambling). Every day he asked whether I was having fun. We drank coffee together, ate octopus and sea urchin together. He opened his home to me as if I weren't just a step-child but as if I were G.'s own. As if I were his own. He was.... He was just so loving and generous and great. And I'm really, really sad that I'll never get to see him again - to hang out with him again. And it's so sad that there's absolutely nothing I can do - that he's a world away. I can't even imagine how G. and my tayta feel.
So here's a picture of Uncle Eddie and G. I'll probably take it down, but I want to remember him how I knew him. And I want to show you him (and G., for even though G. looks like he's a thousand - he's on the right - isn't he just so handsome and darling?). I want to think about Uncle Eddie alive and G. happy.
In other miserable news, my father's mother - my one remaining blood-related grandparent - is in the hospital with pneumonia. Any prayers you've got, please send them her way. Beginning with my chair's death last November, this has seriously been The Year of Death. I really don't know how to take any more.
2 years ago