In the beginning of September, I attended a family reunion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It was my stepfather's father's side of the family. He reconnected with them while I was living in California, and this was my first opportunity to go and meet some of his extended family on his father's side. The setting was beautiful, a large lodge on a private beach in a gigantic privately owned nature reserve.
My stepfather's father has been deceased for many years. Although my stepfather has been part of my life for about 35 years now, long enough for me to call him Dad, I had never met his dad. My Great Uncle Bert was his father's brother. I gravitated to him immediately, and he to me. He was a wonderful old character, in his late eighties, but sharp as a whip. We sat and talked about my vocation, which he'd wished had been his, and building boats. He's done it, and I've always dreamed of doing it, once I retire. I convinced him we should start a company, building hand made wooden strip canoes called "Wickapissa Canoe Company." (That's Maine speak , it's "wicked pisser" which means really cool, with a Maine accent) I really enjoyed meeting, and spending time with him and his wife of 54 years, Jean, who is a total nature buff and in great shape. A couple weeks after the reunion Bert wrote me a letter saying how great it was to meet me, and that I was a grand niece, and he was sure I'd think of him as a great uncle. Bert passed away this weekend. He died from cancer. I'm sure he'd of been around another 15 years if he hadn't had it. I feel cheated that someone I had such a strong connection to, was taken away so quickly, but it cannot compare to the pain of those who've known him a lifetime and lost him. I'd like to do what I think Bert would do at a time like this. Tell a joke, of his, in his Maine accent so you get the full effect:
Henry and Matha have been married fa fottysome yeeahs. One day Henry goes to the docta and says, "Doc, I think Matha's havin some trouble hearin these days, but I don't know watt ta do about it, it's a touchy subject round a(her).
Doc: "Okay Henry, heeahs wattcha do. Get about 50 feet away from Matha, and see if she can hear you, if she can't, move in 10 feet and try again. Keep doin it 'til she heeahs ya, then come let me know how close ya had ta get."
So, that night Henry goes out on the poch off the livin room, about 50 feet away and yells, " Hey Matha, watts fa suppa?" No answer. Henry goes into the livin room where he's about fotty feet away, "Matha, watts fa suppa?" Still no answer. So Henry makes his way inta the dinnin room, where's he's about 30 feet from Matha. This time he cups his hands around his mouth, (Bert does this) "Hey, Matha, Watts fa suppa?" Nothing. Henry's worried, he goes to the doahway of the kitchen , 20 feet away, "Matha, watts fa suppa?" Still nothing. He gets 10 feet from where she's sittin with her back to him and he says, "Matha, I'd like ta know, watts fa suppa?" She replies, "Godammit Henry, fa the fifth time, It's Chicken!"