Few men have borne the responsibility of being the trustworthy patriarch of two families for most of their lives — an immediate family and an extended family.
I’m sharing this story because it’s family reunion time here in the country and many of my favorite, older relatives aren’t around any longer.
My oldest uncle was a bright, witty man whose sense of humor, bravery and dignity never faltered in his 92 years of living.
As the oldest of eight children, he stepped up when his father died and his calm, unruffled demeanor and sound judgment helped his widowed mother make important financial decisions for the rest of her 100 years of life.
That bond of trust between a mother and an obedient son remained unshakable as he became the person looked to by his brothers and sisters to take the lead on her care and comfort.
The love and patience he demonstrated time and time again with that strong-willed lady were among the many stars in his crown.
Every large family should have someone like him whose wisdom was sought by most, if not all, of his seven brothers and sisters as he helped them cope with the personal and professional challenges of their lives.
My dear mother trusted him unfailingly and no major decision was really finalized until she could talk with him.
And just as he was a respectful son and a loyal brother, he also earned love and respect as a kind and attentive husband, as a loving father and as a proud grandfather and great-grandfather.
Many lives were touched by this courteous and cheerful man who was always larger than life to his family and friends.
In the home where I grew up, he often was cited as the model of how a cultured gentleman should dress and deport himself.