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Remembering Uncle Merlen.

I just wanted to take a minute to remember my Uncle Merlen, who left us early this morning. I will never forget summers in Minnesota, during which we always spent a day or two at his farm. It was a foreign concept for my sisters and me (being total Pennsylvanian suburbanites), but he sure had fun showing us (and jokingly trying to scare us with) all the animals and equipment. "Those geese will bite you!" (No joke!)  I remember my sisters and I liked to play with the kittens who lived in the barn.  Some were friendly, and some were scared.  I also loved the goats, but the pigs really freaked me out.  It's funny, when I read Animal Farm for the first time, I envisioned that very farm and all the animals coming to life to act out Orwell's powerful message.  I wonder how Uncle Merlen would feel about that!

As is the case with so many departed relatives, I wish I'd had the chance to get to know Merlen better.  It was hard to grow up so far away from the rest of the family, because once I became old enough to forge those relationships on my own, work and life get in the way.  A week long fishing excursion to Minnesota isn't nearly enough time to see even half of the relatives who live there.  The lack of a relationship doesn't make the loss any easier, either.  It just makes it different.  It's not like I don't know my far-flung relatives; the stories were passed down through the generations and across the miles.  It's a comfort to know that a loved one is out there in the world, doing what they do.  This has happened with all of my grandparents, as well as several other relatives I've lost over the years.  Once they're gone, people will ask, "Were you close to him/her?"  And I will answer honestly, "Not really."  But that doesn't mean I don't feel it.  Even though the loss isn't as serious as that of someone you see every day, it still feels like a slow burn.  That person is no longer out there doing what they do, and the world feels a little bit different.  Something's missing, and it just kinda makes me want to cry.

Goodbye Uncle Merlen, you will be sadly missed.  And, thanks to you, I'll always keep away from the geese.

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