Tag Archive: uncle


The Jalapeno Saga

Uncle Pick, Aunt Marie, Mom, Aunt Juanita, and Uncle Jack

Uncle Pick, Aunt Marie, Mom, Aunt Juanita, and Uncle Jack

My dad recently had to move my Aunt Marie from her home to an assisted living facility. We don’t know if she is just losing some of her memory due to old age or if she has Alzheimer’s. She has not been officially diagnosed, but she shows a lot of the symptoms. Marie will be on the Alzheimers floor of the facility. She lived in Arlington, but she will be living at a facility on Preston Rd. in Dallas. I will be able to visit her there. I didn’t visit her in Arlington because my visit might disturb her routine. Marie’s doing better now and I can start visiting again.

Dad told me earlier because he is the executor of her estate, and I am second on the list. I naturally began to recall events with Marie – and my father’s family – over the years. Which mostly included Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her husband, Pick, and my Aunt Juanita’s husband, Jack, would sneak around behind my brother, Dennis, and I while we were distracted. One would tie my shoelaces together and the other one would tie Dennis’ shoelaces together.

Everyone thought it was hilarious, except us. It was mildly funny the first time, but it got old quick. Dennis and I soon learned to watch each other’s back. We would catch them before they had time to tie the shoelaces. The year I got loafers was a good year. I was able to proudly walk into the living room of whichever house we were in that year and dare them to “tie my shoelaces.” That year, I got the laugh.

Then there were the jalapenos – you knew I was going to get there, didn’t you? Pick would just pick a pepper out of the jar and eat them like candy. As a joke, our family gave him a small, six ounce can of jalapenos for Christmas. By the time we finished exchanging gifts, the can was empty.

The next year, we gave him a jar that was bigger than the can. Again, they were gone before we left to go home. The next year, a bigger jar or can. The ongoing joke came to an end the year we bought him a #10 can of jalapenos (the restaurant/industrial size). No larger size existed, so the joke was over. But the memory and the story lives on.

Pick died a number of years ago. I thought about putting a jar of jalapenos in the casket, but it was just a passing thought. For one thing, it would be relatively tacky – yes, like that. Over the years, I have developed a taste for jalapenos. Nothing near Pick’s level. But I think of him every time I eat jalapenos.

Peace be with you.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my Aunt Juanita’s funeral was last week. I wrote about my uncle, Jack,  in a post when he died the first week in April.  Our son, Cameron, took this picture of Aunt Juanita at Jack’s funeral with the flag from his casket. After he took the picture, I told her I would come to see her soon. But I never got the chance.

A couple of days later, she stumbled and fell. No bones were broken, but we think she had at least one mini stroke. She became bed-ridden shortly after that. She was coherent some of the time, but she had to be fed and helped by a nurse. It was not long before she could no longer walk to the bathroom by herself. I wanted to go see her, but I was not sure if she would recognize me or be able to have a conversation.

It has been hard on Dad, watching his oldest sister deteriorate. He did not want her to linger if she no longer had her faculties. A couple of weeks after Jack’s funeral, Dad called her to talk about getting things in order pertaining to Jack’s will. At the end of the conversation, Juanita said she wanted to ask Dad something.

“Where’s Jack? Is Jack dead?”

Unfortunately, she did linger after that. From what my parents have told me, they never knew if Juanita would know who they were when they visited on Wednesdays. Sometimes she was coherent and other times she seemed to not have a clue. Which was doubly hard on Dad. He and I talked about praying for her and not knowing what to pray for. We simply prayed that God’s will be done.

Two weekends ago we got the call from Mom that Juanita had passed away. Well, not so much passed away as simply went to be with Jack. They were married for 68 years. When Jack  died, the thought was in the back of all our minds that she might not be able to live without him. Though she said before Jack died that she wanted to try to live alone if he died first.

Naturally, I’ve been recalling memories of Jack and Juanita. They were a natural pair – deeply in love, and devoutly Christian. I think she was re-living their marriage the whole time and her body just had not given up yet. On some level she wanted to keep going, but the urge to be with Jack was just too strong.

There is something sweet and precious about a love that is so strong that the couple cannot be separated for very long. But, at the same time, there is something rather tragic about it.

Peace be with you.

This has been one of those “fortunately…unfortunately” sort of weeks. Yesterday was the most significant of the unfortunate days. I received the news that my uncle, Jack Robertson, passed away in his sleep Friday night. Jack was the last living uncle on either side of the family and was my uncle on my father’s side through his marriage to my aunt Juanita.

One of the first things I thought of as my mother filled me in on the situation, was how Jack would tie my shoelaces, and/or my brother, Dennis’, shoelaces, on family occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. He would sneak up behind our chairs while someone distracted us. When we got up to go to the bathroom, sort presents or the like, we began to take a step and fell flat on our face. Which, to our dismay, everyone found amusing.

Jack was in the Navy during World War II. He and Juanita never had any children, but they always enjoyed entertaining Dennis and myself when we were younger, then my daughter, Jennifer, and then our three boys when they were little. As the boys grew older, Jack’s health deteriorated to the point to where he was confined to a wheelchair. My father helps them manage their affairs, including hiring a caregiver when Juanita could no longer care for Jack herself.

Juanita fell Friday morning and Dad went over to help get her to the hospital. While we were at J.D.’s baseball game Friday afternoon he talked to the doctor. Juanita had some bruising, but no bones were broken. Since being confined to a wheelchair, Jack has felt bad that Juanita had to care for him and he could not take care of her. Juanita’s fall was too much strain for him and he went quietly in the night. Rest in peace, Uncle Jack.

Peace be with you.

%d bloggers like this: