Thursday, January 20, 2011
James Edward Petry
January 14th 2011 became the day that I have been dreading for a long time. I lost my uncle, my biggest fan, my favorite man. James Edward Petry ("Uncle Pete") was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandpa, an uncle, a dear friend, a veteran, a police sergeant, and so much more. He had a big impact on the lives of those around him and although he is no longer with us, his lessons and his memory live on in our hearts.
Many of my memories include Uncle Pete. Whether that was reading to me as we sat together in his big brown chair... playing hide and go seek (I always hid in the closet in the laundry basket)... playing Old Maid... letting me eat wayy to many Keebler elf man cookies... telling me that I looked like a communist in my hat (from Limited Too)... quizzing me on my mathematic skills and facts about the United States Government... or telling me that I need to live my life a step above the rest... he was always right there. I owe a great deal of who I am to my uncle who expected great things out of me.
I was his self-proclaimed favorite niece, who answered to the name "Smack". For 21 years I have been my uncle's Smack and it pains me to know that I won't ever be called that again. Even though he is no longer with us, I will always be his Smack. As a kid, and even now some days, its hard to realize that people won't always be here. As obvious as it is that everybody dies, it seems unreal that someone who has always be there won't be there anymore. I can't imagine certain annual events, birthdays, holidays, etc without my uncle there telling me that I need to take a business class, to pass the salt, and to go change the world.
One thing I LOVED about my Uncle Pete was the infinite stock of stories he had about my mother. Although I will still argue that I was his favorite, my mother was a close second ;)
It was not possible to get through a dinner at Aunt June and Uncle Pete's house without learning a new (or hearing a classic old) story about my mom.
I started typing up some of these stories and one of my favorite quotes is this:
"Your mother was always quick and ready with a response for me. We're close. People may not know that now, but we are darn close Smack. Once I told her I would report her to the King if she didn't shape up and she instantly responded with, 'That's alright. I'm the Queen.'"
My Uncle Pete holds a very special place in my mom's life. He walked her down the aisle as she married my dad and it was always my dream that I could have the same privilege. It became clear to me in the past few months that my Uncle would not be around for this. I always wanted him to see my graduate college and he was only about three months away from witnessing this. He always encouraged me to be the smartest and the kindest I could be and I can credit my determination to succeed largely to him. Despite his absence, I will become a college graduate on May 7th with the love and support of my family.
After you lose someone, you quickly learn that the rest of the world keeps spinning and that you have to find a way to keep up with it. You learn that "even in laughter the heart may ache" (Proverbs 14:13) and that time, in fact, does begin to heal the broken heart.
Your legacy lives on.
I love you Uncle Pete.