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And Yet Another Anniversary Passes

October 4, 2010

The other day my cousin, Jessica, had her baby. The birth of her first child fell just a few days shy of the 3rd anniversary of her father, my uncle, Corb’s passing. It’s too bad that her daughter will not have the opportunity to have met him, as he would have made a fabulous grandfather. I can say this with certainty because he made an excellent uncle.

Corb was that rare breed of relative that you actually feel comfortable hanging around with. He didn’t have that creepy-might-grope-you feel that some uncles do; nor did he have that awkward “don’t make me talk to children while I’m drinking my single malt” air that others do. He only wore vintage Hawaiian shirts and never wore white bucks after labour day.

From my uncle I learned a number of important things, beginning with how to smoke dope properly. He ran one of the first head shops in Los Angeles back before we were issuing licenses and calling them clinics, so it was appropriate that he be my teacher on this matter. Although I suspect my first lesson was as much to amuse him as it was to impart any great knowledge upon me. My aunt and uncle’s home was a place where curiosity was encouraged, so long as you surrendered your car keys at the door.

In later years he was to teach me how to write. Having been an English professor at one point in his life, he had an incredible grasp on language and literature. He also had a gift for gab and could, and would, talk whether you were listening or not, as the vast storehouse of information and thought in his brain needed to be imparted. Heeded or understood was another thing entirely. However it was the myriad of letters that I received from him over the course of my adult life that were to be the mainstay of my education. It is from him that I learned wit, sarcasm and snark. The golden rule of which was: there’s always a retort.

Corb also gave me the freedom to be as politically incorrect as I wanted. I could think or say anything I like without fear of reprisal or recriminations. In fact remarks and inappropriate gifts were frequently exchanged between us. There are few people in the world with whom I can have a completely honest conversation and say what ever smart ass inappropriate thought that crosses my mind. My husband Dave is one, and Corb was really the only other. I am often saddened by the fact that Dave and Corb did not get to know each other as well as I would have liked. Just as I am saddened that my cousin’s daughter will not get to know him either.

My hope for my cousin’s daughter is that she has inherited some of the winsomeness of her grandfather. That she gets some of the twinkle that was always in his eye, the laughter that was in his voice, his appreciation of irony as an art form, his gift of language, and that iit is all tempered with some of his sharp biting wit. When she’s old enough to appreciate it, I will pass along the wristwatch with Jesus and Our Lady of Guadalupe on the face that was one of the many gifts we exchanged. She may not understand it fully, but I think he’d approve.

Corb & Surly

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