While I'll never be a big military person, I began to understand that for him, a WWII vet, the military was about doing something bigger than him that was important and that his concern was not about American foreign policy asserting itself all over the globe for the benefit of capitalism, etc., but instead for the men and women who serve, get killed or are left injured and such. Like his devotion to the electrician's union, it is about being part of something that works, and people that look after their own.
Madelyn, his sister (see picture of them both) is a staunch Republican, as is cousin Patti (who is more of a laissez-faire republican - meaning she wasn't going to get into any fights about it).
|Great Uncle Ed Bukoski and Great Aunt Madelyn (Napyshank)|
Patti, aside from that, not only has created an enormous garden in the front and back of the house she shares with her parents, with garden gnomes, but also an 'Oriental garden' with Buddhas and such (see picture below of both):
|a little clutch of gnomes - Patti's garden is an acre deep installation|
|Patti's new Buddhist garden with stones in front from Scotland and Milford|
|cousin Patti who hates having her picture taken...but allowed it sort of|
Patti and I share many things, however, even if politics and love of gnomes are not among them: we both catch insects in glasses and let them free outside the house, we both love thunder and lightening storms, we both get each other's way of thinking, in fact she was able to finish 90% of my sentences, she has tried meditation and yoga and likes Buddhist thought and while liking ideals of religion cannot deal with the church bit.
And as for that: please note that Madelyn, Ed and Madelyn's husband Steve, still all go to mass every week, the men seem to prefer the Saturday evening shift and the women the Sunday shift. Patti brings Madelyn to church but does not go inside.
Madelyn reads Bill O'Reilly books and I get the sense Sarah Palin may be a figure that is liked here. Patti believes that she does not do well (Palin) because she doesn't know how to play the political game, for instance. However, Madelyn wishes she had known about me when I was growing up so she could have been there for me as a child. So there you have it. Politics that I cannot understand coupled with generosity.
Great Uncle Ed insisted on buying my lunch and brought me all over, including to the Bukoski gravesite. I tried to talk politics with him but he demurred, and I think now that is because he was probably afraid I was a Republican, which I find beyond funny. His way of not answering questions is to say 'yes, yes' and then change the subject. He appears to be selectively deaf, and I think if I get to 87, I will attempt this as well, as I think if you reach 87 and can still drive, you deserve to decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore.
|great grandfather George Bukoski and second wife Frances' headstone - Marge Bukoski is in newer grave.|
As he hobbled back to his car using his cane, I cried. It reminded me of watching Papa (his brother George - who's nickname was 'Sonny' I just discovered) leave our house - watching their maroon Buick drive away when we lived in Gorham, Maine, the thwack of the screen door and me crying by myself, afraid to show my mother or my first step-father (also named George - just to add to confusion). I've always been so afraid of hurting others' feelings, even at age 6. I thought I was supposed to be happy to be 'home' but was so sad to watch their car leave the driveway.
As I was still with Patti and Madelyn, my crying was brief, as I didn't want to show them I was crying. Earlier in the day, I went through the same thing when I watched a bridal party leave the hotel. This made me cry as I don't know if my second marriage is falling apart or not. Great Uncle Ed showed up at the same time so I dried my eyes and smiled, then went to the bathroom to cry and came back smiling again.
A phrase both Ed and Madelyn repeated often "We didn't have money, but we had everything else." And from Ed "Kids have it harder these days." They will also bemoan kids saying I want, I want, but there's a realization that something's missing. They came from a family of 15 people and most of them only have one child. But it's more than that, a sense of community, not in the PC BS way of talking about community, but in the way that it existed before anyone had to say the word.
I still don't know why the disconnect happened between my grandparents and them. But some things are clearer: they did not know I existed. Madelyn says she's been in touch with everyone else. They were shocked to see a picture of my father with long hair (70s) and simply knew nothing. This makes me think that my grandparents were ashamed of how things went with Jim (their son, my father) marrying my mother when she was pregnant and such, but also - because the split happened before then - that they wanted to break from the Bukoski name/clan/religion. Or Nana did anyway. They were very scared people my grandparents and this Mr. North boss person was clearly dominant.
My grandfather's father worked at Farrel-Birmingham as well, as a crane operator. Because of that, he got some kind of lung problem that they are calling asthma or bronchitis but sounds even worse. He had to stop working in the mid 20s and died in 1937 (which was a year before my grandparents got married). Uncle Ed said because of that they all worked and did stuff to give money into the household. This would be way before the days of workman's compensation. So how they made ends meet sounds like nothing short of a miracle.
See the photo of the house they all lived in (15 kids - 2 parents) below (still in the family...rented out now - and other houses bought on land surrounding). They picked vegetables in the fields, made toboggans out of sticks and refuse to sled in the snow, had newspaper routes, shined shoes, whatever. It's a world long gone, at least in the U.S. now.
|Bukoski homestead in Seymour - apparently my grandfather lived in the attic room.|
I will let a number of photos speak for the rest of the day now, as my most excellent friend Renee will be showing up soon, and I want to have time to take a nap before her arrival. I have not seen her for years, since my father had his first stroke in 2003 and I ended up shipwrecked at her place in Oakland, where she and her husband and two kids were shipwrecked due to visa issues which meant they had not yet moved to Canada. We looked at each other and laughed (as described in an earlier post).
I look forward this time dearly, as she is also the kind of friend with whom it feels no time has passed even when it has. The perfect person for this moment, for so many reasons...
|the old Seymour High School - where my grandparents went and presumably met - now a senior center/recreation place|
|Great Uncle Ed - hero driver.|
|Great Aunt Madelyn in her very Catholic kitchen - husband visible watching TV in next room|
|view from garden - below trees is pond once owned by brass company that used to smell but now is clean as factory is closed - Uncle Ed was quick to point out the positive side of factory closures was clean fishable swimmable water|
I notice from the Great Uncle Ed example that those who find reasons to feel lucky and grateful no matter what seem to live longer and happier. That may sound like a bad self-help book platitude, but to see him motor around and hear his stories about traveling and helping out veterans and being connected to this person and that, and working at the Hilton Hotel for 39 years including the '68 convention in Chicago, you can't help but come to this conclusion yourself. He misses his dead wife, wishes his son had more opportunities and is under no illusion about the state of the world, but still has an open heart, 87 years on. That's impressive.
"We don't care what anyone's done, we never have. We don't interfere in each other's lives. We're all Bukoskis. We are so glad you found us. We want to welcome you to the family." (Ed)
Well, OK, then. How could I resist?