Thursday, February 28, 2013

5th December 2012

Amazing People #4 - Joseph Edward Short - 'Uncle Eddie'

As I clear more of my blogging backlog up the closer we get to real time, we're in December 2012 with this one. It was precisely the 5th December.

My grandmother and her partner were always conventional people. They were old school, stuck in their ways. The picture above is my Grandmothers calendar and it's stuck on Wednesday 5th December 2012. With an epic picture of a Gloster Meteor plane next to it. They must have got it for free, probably through Readers Digest.

She'll never change it..

Unless something special or completely out of the ordinary happened to you on 5th December 2012 I bet you don't remember anything about that day. I remember that day pretty well. I remember being at work until God awful hours, maybe it was 10pm? Maybe it was 11? It's December and its probably the busiest period of the year. Knowing I was going back to Europe in mid-December I was working pretty much all the hours him above sends, including weekends to get shit done. I was downstairs, outside of the office having some 'fresh air' and my Dad called. Not unusual for my old man to call me in fact he calls me quite often, it was a slightly alarming hour but other than that nothing out of the ordinary.

I hit the part of the screen flashing green and pressed the phone to my ear embracing my Dad as I normally would. As soon as he spoke I knew something wasn't right and it was serious, my Dad is pretty solid even in his 50's. Not much can phase him. He sounded phased.

At this point i was leaning my backside and my lower back against a metre high wall and when he uttered his next words I slid down the wall until I was sitting directly on the concrete itself. Matrix slow motion style. My Grandmothers partner, our adopted Grandfather had passed away.

He'd died around 3pm in the afternoon without pain, without fear and in the comfort of his own home. I'll always be thankful for that.

Uncle Eddie

I learned a lot about new things about Eddie during the sermon at the funeral, many of them made me smile and many made me cry. Eddie had met my Grandmother as a customer in her pub, my Grandparents owned a pub in our home town. Eddie, my Grandfather and my Grandmother all got along well. Eddie got along very well with my Father and Uncle. He was to play a pivotal role in everyone's lives and for another generation to come.

Eddie grew up primarily with his Grandparents on a farm and when he became of working age he got a job on a farm what is now housing estates in my home town. One of my favourite stories he used to tell me was when he shot a bird down a chimney on the farm.

So one day Eddie was practicing his aim with a .22 rifle, standard for agriculture back then. His sights drew him to a bird sitting on the edge of the chimney pot. He fired a single shot and then withdrew as if almost certain of missing his target. The bullet hit the bird, a direct shot and flung it down the chimney. On it's journey to the bottom maybe it's wings opened and it swept all the soot from the inside of the chimney off and down through the fire place in went covering his Employer. I smiled all the way typing through that.

After the farms Eddie began working for the Water Company, I think he used to man the digger when they were laying new piping or excavating the old. A story he used to tell us from his times at the water company was when his colleagues played a trick on him by using his lunch box. I can imagine Eddie not straight forward and professional at work, maybe not as much fun as the other lads would have liked. One day, the clock struck noon and it was time for lunch. Eddie peeling the lid from this lunchbox expecting to be greeted by pink Salmon sandwiches on brown bread instead greeted by a big fat dead rat. The reaction my Uncle Eddies face must have given rattled the humor bone in his colleagues but not for long for he would have his revenge. He too found a dead rat and with a knife he gutted it, well he made a slit the full length of the pest. He then perched the rat on the shoulder of the guy who had got him. Viscera pouring down his shirt.

One day at the water company there was an accident, I don't recall the specific detail but a pipe of some sort that held a type of molten metal (I think he used to say it was Lead) exploded and only by the skin of his teeth had Eddie not been more badly injured. His flesh was, on the areas of his body that were exposed almost boiled off completely and he just managed to guard his eyes with his forearm. After that accident his working life came to an abrupt end and he got some form of compensation from the company.

He married once when he was in his early 30's but unfortunately he lost his bride to cancer. Some 20 years later he met another woman by the name of Ella, a friend of my Grandmothers funnily enough and as part of God's master plan he lost her too to the same illness. Destined to be alone or so it seemed, my Grandmother and my Grandfather divorced. Twice to be precise but it's another post altogether. Eddie and my Grandmother became close but were never to marry. I don't know the entire chronicle of their relationship or the reasons they never married, maybe I'll never know but they continued to be life long friends.

When I was around young, around 6 or 7 my Grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. She beat the illness but when she came from hospital Eddie offered her the second bedroom in his home so he could help her recover. She took up the offer and 20 years later she is still living there, now the sole resident of the home. My grandmother is still caught up on my Grandfather I think, even though they divorced twice I don't think she ever stopped loving him. Maybe that's why Eddie and her never get married? I might ask my sister to probe.

All I know is that I have only fond memories of Eddie now, I shed my tears for him at the funeral. My favourite memories range from  things such as when he used to smoke a pipe, as a child I was absolutely fascinated and completely addicted to the smell of his rolling tobacco. The gigantic vegetables he could grow in his garden while he could still move around. The steak and homemade french fries he was so famous for. His love for single malt whisky. His phrases and sayings, the most memorable one being 'Can't means won't try' or the fact his hearing was so good he'd often retort he could hear a duck fart underwater. l.

It was a bitterly cold day his funeral, my sister had wrote a poem for him. she got up in front of the half full church and recited it flawlessly. I'm not sure my sister ever reads this but on the off chance she does she has no idea how proud I was of her for doing that. She read it without tear or whimper without stutter or stammer. I'd have been a wreck reading that, I was a wreck listening to it. I couldn't hold the tears back.

I'll miss him a lot and I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for helping make me the man I am today.