Those of you who know me in the 'real world' know that I mock those who overshare, on Facebook (look at the soup I'm having for lunch), tweeting and yes, blogging. I realize that MAYBE three people reading this blog would have actually known my Uncle Ronnie, and yet, I feel the need to write this for a (somewhat) larger audience.
I just found out yesterday that my uncle, Ronald Cohn, passed away on July 9th at the age of 83. It saddens me to think of his passing without sharing what he meant to me, and since I will not be able to attend services (if there are any) this is my eulogy for him.
Uncle Ronnie was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, which meant that anytime I called him I'd hear "Hello Darlin'" in a warm, southern accent. I always called him on his birthday and Christmas and tried to catch him in between with calls or an occasional picture of my daughters.
I also remember that when my mother would call home or visit Florida, he would give her the hardest time for talking like a "Damn Yankee"
When I'd call on his birthday he'd say, "How do you always remember the date?" I'd laugh and say, "Well, you ARE my mother's twin brother after all." My mother passed away in 1975, so having her much adored twin in my life meant a lot to me.
I remember going to Florida in college to visit my grandmother and I went on a trip with Uncle Ronnie and his third wife, Mary (a warm, buxom woman who, with much love helped me feel more comfortable with my own zaftig build). We went to a mall and there was an ear piercing booth in the middle of the mall. They asked me if I'd like to get my ears pierced as my holiday gift. I wasn't sure because, while I wanted pierced ears, I was also not all that comfortable with a needle being 'shot' through my ear.
They very patiently walked the mall with me while I decided. My favorite part of this memory is that while I went and sat on the chair and Mary stood beside me, Uncle Ronnie stood about 20 feet away, pacing, more nervous about the whole procedure than I was. I almost yelled "Ow" really loudly just to freak him out, but just couldn't do it to the dear, worried man. :-)
Uncle Ronnie was very happy that we named our first daughter, Elise, after my mother, Elsie (and he understood why we wouldn't want to saddle a child born in 1994 with the name Elsie) and he loved hearing what the girls were up to.
When I was talking to Sasha yesterday about Uncle Ronnie she asked "Does Uncle Mike (my bro) look like him?" and I pointed to a photo of my father and said, "No, Uncle Mike looks almost exactly like Grandpa Herman." (yes, real winners in the name department, my parents) :-) She said, "Do you look like him, because you look a lot like Grandma Elsie." and I realized that, yes, I must look a bit like Uncle Ronnie then too, it's a comforting thought for me.
Elise had a period for a while when she talked about how little impact people make and how little they are remembered (teen angst at its best). I remember telling her that as long as memories and stories are shared, that people live on forever.
Perhaps that's my reason for writing this. Wanting Uncle Ronnie to be remembered in a loving and smile inducing way and knowing that I can help the stories go on.
As I said at the beginning of this, I always called Uncle Ronnie on his birthday. However, this year we were getting ready for a two week family vacation and leaving at 4 a.m. the day after his birthday. I got caught up in the packing and stress and thought, I'll bring his number with me and I'll call him from the trip. But I forgot to write it down, so I thought I'd call after we got back. This will end up being a forever regret. I did not talk to Uncle Ronnie, I did not get to say goodbye and I did not get to say "I love you." and hear it in return in that deep Southern voice that I loved so well.