This was originally sent as a post to an e-mail list to which I was then a member. The content has been reviewed - and if my inclusions offend anyone, I am sorry. It was not my intention - my intention was merely to leave the writing intact. I have added one word, in parentheses, because the distribution is to people less familiar with the topic amended than the former audience. I have added an e here and taken one from there. But this is mostly as it was first written, on November 10, 2001. Please feel free to share this as you like, remembering to share also, that it, as with Uncle Eddie, was and is very much mine.
(This is just a sharing. No advice, no request for help... Not even needing sympathy. Purely reflection.)
Some of you know me, know my love for your children, though I have none of my own. Some of you know my sister, also on list, though just a little quieter than I. We are bright capable individuals - not dissimilar to many of the parents or other professionals on the list.
A few of you have met my parents, at either Hollingworth or Beyond IQ (conferences). You may have even known that they were my parents. They, too, obviously fit in - sufficiently that one of PG's favorite speakers asked them if they would adopt (him/her)! - Much to my amusement.
My grandmother graduated from law school at 21, in 1917. Her dad was a 'typical' American dream success story - coming from the homeland to America with next to nothing and eventually owning and running a business
that employed a lot of other folks, and making a comfortable home for his family.
These are merely examples from a family tree - examples of a certain type. Eddie was not of that type.
Eddie was my favorite relative when I was growing up - my mother's uncle. We'd talk sports together in a way that nobody else could, he shared his stash of early baseball magazines and stories of this athlete or that
manager that he had gotten to know. They were wild stories told in a ranging manner with frequent interruptions for other stories that may or may not have any bearing on the story he had started with, but he usually finished that first story as well...
By the time I consciously knew Eddie, he had been married, had two children, a fair bit older than I, and divorced. I eventually became aware of them - but not interactively. Eddie was my pal.
I never saw him in his own place. When we got together, he was visiting my grandmother (his older sister), either at her home in Rhode Island or in her summer place in Maine. On a rare occasion, he would come by our place in NH or meet in the middle somewhere.
He had a room at Nana Jen's house. It was always his room, whether he was there when we visited or not. If I was there with my parents or my sister, I would stay in Eddie's room. Otherwise, I might stay in my mother's old room. (OZ books and Patty Fairfield books and other
treasures - but that's another story!)
In Eddie's room were little statuettes of Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson, programs from events at the Boston Garden or Madison Square Garden. Bio's of athletes, and just all kinds of stuff to look at and paw over. Staying in Eddie's room was more than a little like being with him. You couldn't start looking at one thing without another thing catching your attention
and pulling you away until, usually, you would get back around to that first thing.
Eddie was not a neat man. His room was not too bad, until you realized that my grandmother had a maid who would clean it regularly and that it was STILL a mess. He would never have his entire shirt tucked into his
trousers, no matter how he tried. He was a big man, barrel chested and barrel waisted. He sauntered and he ambled. He strolled and swayed. He ranged. He never walked or ran. He never hurried - never. "We'll get
there, me bucko! We'll get there. They wouldn't start without us." Time was magic around Uncle Eddie. He was never on time, and yet they never did seem to start anything without him. Not family events, but neither
the public events. If we were running late for a sporting event (which I would only know from hearing my parents comment upon it when he picked me up - **I** certainly had no time sense), inevitably there would be some pregame activity, and the game would not have started, though we arrived a half hour later than the event was advertised for.
His car was not neat either. He almost always drove a station wagon, and it was filled and more, almost every time I saw it. It had many of the same sorts of gems that his room did, but they were harder to find for the
debris scattered throughout. I guess that maid had something going for her. ;-) But he would toss whatever was in the front seat into the back, and I would climb on in.
He was a pretty safe driver, and certainly a calm one. Neither slow nor fast traffic seemed to do much to change his approach to the driving. "We'll get there, me bucko!" That may well have been what he said to
himself when he was going from point A to point B.
Uncle Eddie didn't have a job. Ever? I don't know. But during my life time of consciousness, he never had a job. A trust fund was established for him by his father and maintained by his siblings. I remember, when he turned 65, he showed a rarely seen awareness of himself and the world around him. "You suppose I should get a job now?!"
I'm told that he was 'normal' until after a bout of viral meningitis or some other disease - when he was still a teen... That the adults of that time and all the ones since had no idea what the problem was or why he was like this.
I also knew that (though they would say otherwise) my parents were afraid that in some way I might grow up to be like Uncle Eddie.
Eddie was known around Boston Garden. It was clear, as I grew older, that many of his stories were fabrications - but that many of them either had roots in the truth or were absolutely true - and that the craziness of the story was not the dividing line.
Eddie was, by some descriptions, a gambler. I don't think that this was true.
Eddie almost never won. And I think that this was intentional. Uncle Eddie had next to no use for money. It had one redeeming quality. He could use it to make others happy. And he did.
He would not stint, whether for seats or food. He wouldn't tell you that something "wasn't in the budget" - if that phrase had even made it into
the vernacular at that point... And if you asked him for a loan, he would not say "What do you need it for?" "When will you pay it back?" "You still haven't repaid the last one."
He would say "How much do you need?" "How soon do you need it?" "Can it wait until Wednesday?"
He introduced me to his friends and to those he thought were his friends. But even among the professional chiselers and touts, there was a warmth for Uncle Eddie. It wasn't, as some would say, that they just saw an easy mark, though they most certainly did, at that. They all had many more chances to take advantage of him then they did.
He was a favorite - and I believe that part of it was that he did not bear umbrage against those who thought they were taking from him. That he knew better than they did, and that he was giving to them in the only way they could accept - had he offered the money outright, they would have been hurt, and declined. But bad bets?! That was fine, and they would smile all the way to the bookie. I mean bank.
Uncle Eddie wrote music. He created a game. He co-invented the 24-second rule in Basketball (this from newspapers of the time, not from him).
And he gave things away.
Uncle Eddie died a few weeks ago, now - though in reality, he died quite a while before that... He was 92.
At his graveside service, the rabbi related snippets told him by his younger daughter. And part of that, in the short form, with no embellishments, included the time that he gave away a livingroom set and the time that he gave away a car.
Nobody knows now why he did those things. They put it down to his having been crazy, touched, not altogether there...
The world could use a little more of that sort of craziness. Maybe not a lot, but at least some...
And maybe I should not be so impatient.
"We'll get there, me bucko!"