This week, I will say good-bye to my Uncle Sam. His real name was Ovila Samson, but to me, he was always Uncle Sam. What I remember most about him was his smile, probably the most genuine, happy smile I’ve ever seen, and the way his eyes would light up when he saw me. I remember thinking that Santa Claus must have had eyes just like Uncle Sam’s.
He always had a kind word for you, and even when you dropped in unexpectedly, the welcome you received was genuine. There was no question that he was happy to see you and truly wanted you to sit and chat a while. Of course, Aunt Verna, undoubtedly the world’s best cook in my opinion, would insist on giving you something to eat–her desserts were the best part of a visit.
I never saw Uncle Sam angry, although I’m sure with three boys in the family, he must have lost his patience at some time, but to me, he was the nicest, happiest man ever. He didn’t even get mad when he found Gerard, David, Mark, and my sister, Michele and I jumping on the beds upstairs, an action that would have brought down the wrath of God had my mother found us!
Unfortunately, mine is not what you would call a close family. We meet at weddings, anniversaries, and funerals, and the days for weddings are long past. I wish I could turn back the time and visit more, but such is life that as we grow older ourselves, time has a way of moving strangely. ‘I’ll visit next week’ we say, but next week never comes, and suddenly, it’s too late, the decision has been taken out of our hands.
Uncle Sam worked as letter carrier back in the day when we called them mailmen. He had the downtown route, so if I were out shopping, I’d often run into him delivering his mail. He always had time to stop and say hello. When my husband and I returned to Cornwall after living in Ottawa for more than ten years, Uncle Sam was still delivering the mail, and my husband’s office was on his route. Since he was getting on in years, the long flight of stairs became harder on his knees, but he never complained.
I was lucky enough to see him just a couple of years ago at a family event. His dark hair was white, he was shorter and far more frail than I remembered, but his eyes still twinkled. Today, I’ll say good-bye to one of my favorite people. There are few members of my father’s family left, just as there are few left on my mother’s side. We need to remember to treasure the memories of our family members– those who have gone ahead of us have made us who we are today. Thank you, Uncle Sam, for serving in the second world war, preserving the freedom Canada enjoys, and for being part of my life. You will be missed.