Nancy Barber (nlbarber) wrote,
Nancy Barber

Hard week

Last week (that is, not the one just ending, but last week) was a hard one, physically and (somewhat) emotionally. Tuesday morning my uncle died--the last of my father's four siblings. My father was the oldest, but the only child who did not get myotonic dystrophy in the great genetic dice-throw, and so he has out-lived three sisters and one brother.

Uncle Albert was a devoted church-goer, a deacon and Sunday school superintendent in a Baptist church (the one I was raised in until I fled for the Episcopal church in high school), active in the local Democratic Party back when Jimmy Carter ran for governor and then President, a Rotarian. Wednesday morning my younger brother and I drove down for the visitation and the funeral, returning to Atlanta Thursday afternoon.

I can't say I was very close to my uncle, but he was very much a presence in my life. He and my father ran several family businesses together (and with their father until his death), sharing the office on the second floor of a downtown building in Moultrie, Ga. Like many small south Georgia towns, Moultrie has a collection of mostly 2-story brick buildings that surround the courthouse square. The second stories are often not in use, or are storage for the store on the first floor. But this space has been used continuously since at least the 1950's, furnished with items from the 1930's when my grandfather got started, upgraded in places with fixtures or furniture left over from various construction jobs (one of the family businesses was a general contracting firm).

All that seems needed to remember Uncle Albert. He'd come through the little storage room to my father's office, settle into a chair, and ask a question or hand Daddy some item to read and comment on. Or he'd ask me something about school, or (later) my job, or whatever. More recently he'd ask what I thought about some stock choice--investing was the primary activity of the surviving family businesses of late. Or make a little joke. He was not a back-slapping type, but quiet, willing to involve you in the discussion at hand. For the last year or so he had not been able to get to the office very often, so the transition was perhaps eased a little for my father. But when I think of visiting Moultrie, it'll hard to remember that Albert isn't there any more.

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