Thursday, June 05, 2014

If this isn't nice, what is?

Most of you probably know I'm a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut. Even though he went to heaven seven years ago (bonus points if you get that), his estate is still finding ways to churn out books, most recently in a volume of graduation and award acceptance speeches. (Highly recommend this, by the way.)

Among other things, he recalls that his uncle Alex taught him to stop and enjoy nice moments in life. No easy feat for a guy who battled bad depression his entire adult life, but he made it a point to share that story. They'd have, say, lemonade on a nice day, and his uncle would stop and say, "If this isn't nice, what is?"
Since my uncle had his stroke random stories and memories have been popping into my head. When he was married to my aunt, they lived near us in California and we spent lots of holidays and other occasions there. My uncle was always hilarious, even when talking about and dealing with things that would have made other people see sideways. Even in the hospital, he recently told my dad, "I'm getting out of here one way or another!"

He has always had a way, in effect, of saying what Kurt Vonnegut's uncle said.

Here are some snippets:

- Shortly after their 20th anniversary, my aunt said in a dreamy voice, "Wow, it doesn't feel like 20 years." My uncle: "No, it feels more like...19!" (They got divorced a couple of years later.)

- On the fact that their first house wasn't selling after they had moved out of state (after having rented it to college students): "I went to check it out and found out what the deal was. I called the realtor and said, 'Hello! The house isn't selling because there are 1,234 holes in the wall, and a PASTEL PICTURE OF GARFIELD has been drawn on the wall!'"

- They were notorious for letting their four kids, my cousins, have free reign growing up. At the ripe old age of six, my cousin Eve got mad at my uncle and spouted off, "Dad, you're an asshole!" We were silent and shocked. Later on that afternoon, she got mad at him for taking "her" chair. He quipped, "What do you expect from an asshole?"

- He told us that my dad asked him his GPA in graduate school. It was a 4.0. Then my dad apparently said, "Hey, my sister is coming into town this weekend, would you like to meet her?" My uncle: "Well apparently it was a good thing I didn't have a 3.5!"
And on one visit, the main entree was ham, which always made me ill even before I became a non-meat eater. He saw that I was uncomfortable, and without me saying much of anything, he got up from the table and started cooking me a piece of turkey.

Now if that isn't nice, what is?

21 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

It's amazing sometimes to listen to the off kilter way some folks have of seeing the world. They are joys for sure.

Elephant's Child said...

What a brilliant uncle. And your apple decidedly didn't fall far from his tree.
Hugs.

Rock Chef said...

Sounds good for an arsehole! :-)

It is good to remember these stories, they keep the memories of a person real.

lgsquirrel said...

Well, if this wasn't a nice post. You are blessed to have such an uncle. Clearly some of that rubbed off on you.

Granny Annie said...

I am sad as you struggle with his illness but happy that you have such loving memories of better days. It is obvious why he is such a favorite of yours. (Did you follow him around taking notes?)

Lynn said...

What a delightful man, your uncle. This is a lovely tribute to him.

You know I'm all about noticing the little things in life that give pleasure and this post has done that this morning. And love that it all started with Kurt Vonnegut.

Dexter Klemperer said...

Indeed that was nice and a very nice post. That reminds me of my father-in-law's anniversary joke, "we've been married 50 years including 8 good ones."

Cheryl said...

You uncle sounds like he had a great sense of humor and YES that was nice of him to make you the turkey.

Have a good week. I hope things are going as well as they can with your uncle.

G. B. Miller said...

Very cool stories about your uncle and no, I did not know you were a fan of Kurt Vonnegut.

Enjoyed "Slaughter House 5" but never really got into "1984" (yet I quote from it a lot. go figure).

Father Nature's Corner

My Girl Murphy said...

Pithy runs in the family. Well done RK.

Abby said...

Love these quips. He sounds like a great guy.

Introverted Art said...

I had an uncle like that... he passed about 3 years ago. Good sense of human he had...

Riot Kitty said...

Thanks everyone.
GB: I counted - we have 26 Vonnegut books. More than any other author.
GA: I just have a good memory, I think.

LL Cool Joe said...

Your uncle has a great sense of humour just like you! And enjoying the nice moments in life, whilst you can, is what it's all about!

Holland said...

That sense of humor runs in the family or at least it rubbed off on you. Most of my uncles were bark raving mad and serious about it as well...good thing I am not an uncle
lol

A Beer For The Shower said...

Those are some great stories, and while we didn't know you were a fan, we're both big on Vonnegut.

"He's my cousin, sir. Phillip Asshole."
"Great, I'm surrounded by Assholes." - Spaceballs

Vanessa Morgan said...

Nice!

Lee said...

Now I know where you got your wit and sense of humour from, RK! :)

DWei said...

How can you not like ham? Ham is delicious.

Ugh... Ham... High sodium, low protein, but still delicious...

Betty Manousos said...

your uncle sounds like he has a great sense of humor. what a brilliant man!

and i agree with lee.

ya know, having a sense of humor is one of the greatest assets a person can have. right?

big hugs~

Betty Manousos said...

great post!:)