He passed away this morning and I won't be able to make it to Tennessee to the funeral. It breaks my heart, I had hoped for one more visit.
My mother is one of eight, Aunt Gail, my godmother, precedes him in death, as does Uncle Ky, their younger brother and Jack's wife Bobbe Lee, and their son many years ago died as a child, Jackie Junior.
He was one of many uncles, but he was my special one. I think kids in big families usually have an aunt, uncle, grandparent that they have a special bond for some reason. I had that with Uncle Jack.
He was a hard working man his entire life. He worked for the postal service 48 years driving a dangerous route up and down the mountain, and worked a more than full day rebuilding houses on the Assemble Grounds.
He was a man that kept his word, had common sense and knew how to communicate that sense to others with confidence. He was humble. He was kind. He was generous.
Uncle Jack was an artist of old home renovation. When we came for Deborah's wedding, we had the opportunity to meet and see homes Uncle Jack had renovated and transformed into charming homes in that special place in Monteagle mountain in Tennessee. He had skill but also an artist's eye of what worked best on those charming, century old homes.
He and Aunt Bobbe Lee, always made me feel part of their family, either there or when I was far away. My cousin Bo was always a close friend through my teenage years, Mike was my age, following in the family construction business, Deborah had my son Max in her wedding.
They hosted a baby shower for me when I lived in Georgia pregnant with my fifth child, Ceci. I will always love being included in an that event that made me feel closer to my Tennessee family. I never lived in Tennessee past infancy, we always were the visiting relatives. But not to Uncle Jack. I felt welcomed home any time I came to see them. I visited often when we lived in Alabama and again in Geogia. I loved that home feeling, that welcome. I needed it.
I now host Easter at my house because of the fond memories I have of Easter egg hunts at Uncle Jack's.
Their first home was incredible in my memory. A rock cottage with a huge front yard and large trees with a farm behind. One Easter I found the golden egg and was awarded a solid chocolate bunny. I remember climbing a tree house built in one of those wonderful trees and trying to share and trying not to share too much of my prize. It was dreaming, green colored memory filled with love and lots of deviled eggs. Kids were welcome in their home. My sisters, cousins and I would be sequestered away from the large picture window overlooking the front lawn while aunts and uncles were busy hiding eggs. My mom and other aunts were helping Aunt Bobbe Lee in the kitchen.
There were always feasts, plenty to eat, a table and a friendly ear to visit. They took time out of their lives to show love and welcome to me.
There was a New Year's I first brought Craig to meet my family and we went to Uncle Jack's. All my uncles and cousins welcomed us, treated Craig like family right off. Uncle Ky brought fireworks, we played cards until the New Year rung in. Another special memory to me, thirty years ago, but the memories still sparkle in my thoughts.
That time is gone now. Even with everything is changing so quickly in this country, I could always count on knowing what a visit back to family would be like and include time with Uncle Jack and Aunt Bobbe Lee.
I can only keep his memory and pray for a happy eternity and a chance to reminisce in heaven. I am inspired to live his example of loving family, being generous and having a welcoming home an ear to listen.
God rest his hard working soul.
You will be missed, Uncle Jack.