Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I got the news today

This man, he of the wide grin and sparkling eyes, he's my uncle.  He is my mother's brother.  For me, to me, he was laughter and tickles, intelligence and a quick wit I tried to keep up with, and compassion.  He loved his sister, my mother, and he loved me as well.  I'm sure he loved my sister and brother as they too were his niece and nephew, but he was charmed by me and I held on to that, formed my own relationship with him. Our focus was always on us, our banter, our time. I can hear myself now, remembering him, giggling with the delight of a child.  So happy I was to see him, always. My Uncle Carl.

I am positive that my Uncle Carl made hard decisions in his life, struggled, cried, fought. He lived through the tragedy of losing the love of his life in a horrible accident, and several years later the good Lord blessed him with another woman with whom he could share his life and heart.  He raised three sons who my mother whole-heartedly adored.  But I didn't see or really know that part of his life, save for a few foggy family trips. He and I, we started talking, really talking, about 20 years ago. He egged me on for years, to be an adult, to be honest, stand up for myself, laugh at myself.  This life, not as serious as I was making it. When I finally was able to laugh, he loved it.

When mother began to unravel, I called him. My father called him. He came here. Of course he came here, she was his sister.  He was shocked, sad. He was also direct and firm with her. To no avail. The last time I saw him, his heart was sad. My heart was sad. too. He knew he wouldn't see his sister again and I held on tight to our goodbye because I wondered if I would see him again.

It's okay, kiddo, you're doing a good job. Just keep loving her, that's all you can do. Be strong.

I called him when she passed. I think we cried together over the phone but he was trying to be strong.  He couldn't make it here for her service, his legs and hips would not allow the travel.  Months later when I went to New York City to scatter her ashes, and told him that I was doing so, he excitedly shared stories from their childhood. Central Park, their skating, the museums, the security guards, and the out-witting. I learned that those two were quite a mischievous team.

He said to me, you're a good kid, Alison, a good kid. She'd like what you're doing.

I called him from Central Park that day and he let me cry over the phone, he shouldered my tears, understood them.  He encouraged my journey. 

My Uncle left this life in March of this year. Seven months ago. I found out today.  It's a cruel way, how I found out, a cruel and unnecessary way. 
Carl Oxholm, Jr., age 87, died on March 8, 2011, at his home in Dunwoody Village in Newtown Square, Pa. He was born March 21, 1923, in New York City to the late Carl and Dorothy Oxholm. He lived in Staten Island, N.Y., until enlisting in the Army in 1942. He returned to the New York City area upon his honorable discharge in 1946 and graduated from Brown University in 1949. After several years in retail he joined the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia in 1952. He married Eleanor (Ellie) Councilman of New York City in 1952, and moved to the Philadelphia area where he has lived ever since. He enjoyed a 24-year career with Penn Mutual as a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and long-time General Agent, eventually retiring from the position of Vice President of Marketing. During his career he made hundreds of friends in the life insurance business and served as President of the General Agents and Managers Conference in 1968. After retirement he enjoyed his main passion, golf, primarily at St. Davids Golf Club in Wayne, Pa., and The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota, Fla., including scoring four holes-in-one. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Elizabeth Groth, and his first wife Ellie who died tragically in an auto accident in 1982. He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Frances (nee Hopkins). In addition, he is survived by his three sons; Carl (Tobey) and his wife Kim, of Sacramento, Calif.; Tom and his wife Becky, of Raleigh, N.C.; and Paul and his wife Karen, of Wyomissing, Pa.; and eight grandchildren. He will be interred in Quogue, N.Y. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Program, Golf Association of Philadelphia, P.O. Box 808, Southeastern, Pa. 19399. Stuard F.H., Ardmore, Family owned since 1822.


Linda@VS said...

So sorry for your loss, Alison. I lost an aunt today . . . and found out today, as it should be. I wish someone had done the same for you.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, not only for your loss, but in the manner in which you found out that hurt you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Alison. You don't deserve this. You are in my thoughts and prayers.