Thursday, May 25, 2006

Goodbye, Uncle Harold

This morning my phone rang before I was leaving for work. That's six-something. My phone never rings that early. It was my mom. She was calling to tell me that my Uncle Harold died during the night. Actually he was her uncle, my great uncle. Uncle Harold was 97. Few people in my life hold such a special place in my heart as Harold. 97 years! What a great life! To the right is a very old photo that Harold gave to me.

Harold was simply one of the nicest men I have ever known. Likewise, his wife Genevieve was one of the kindest women I have ever known. Harold and Genevieve Allen were an inspiration as a couple and two of the most remarkable, lovely folks you could have ever met. Few people in my life have given me the kind of special memories that Uncle Harold and Aunt Genevieve have.

From left to right:
Uncle Harold; Aunt Genevieve; my mom, Effie; my brother, Mark; me (age 11)
Oregon in 1980

My great-grandparents, Effie Mary Neeley and Winfield Scott Murray, had many children. Two of them were Herbert and Genevieve. Herbert was my mom's father and his sister, Genevieve, went on to marry Harold Allen. Genevieve died in 1999. Thankfully, Harold was not one of the statistics that gave up after the loss of a spouse. He outlived Genevieve by 7 years. He was determined to live to 100 actually. He just very recently had a hip surgery and never made it out of the hospital due to some infections.

Harold, Genevieve, and me (age 20)

Harold and Genevieve lived in Oregon my whole life (when they weren't traveling). I had many opportunties to visit them there. As a kid I visited them with my Aunt Linda, my grandmother Ann Marie, by myself, and several times with my mom. After high school I made a trip with my buddy Matt. They were always the definition of hospitality, the ultimate tour guides. Two more generous people would be hard to find. I can't even count the number of times Harold would argue over the dinner bill with my father. There was always laughter around them. Harold loved to crack senior citizen jokes. Both of them were very witty. They were both strong New Deal Democrats and staunch FDR supporters. Oh how I loved the talk of history when in their home. Wonderful folk, the kind that made America strong.

From left to right:
Harold; my sister, Lori Ann; Genevieve; my brother, Mark; and, me (age 22)
This is at the Columbia Gorge Hotel on the Hood River.
We're on the Oregon side, but across the water that is Washington.

Another thing I'll never forget about Genevieve is her cooking. She would grow fruit and vegetables and then can things. She made the best bread-and-butter-pickles I've ever had in my life. It pains me to think that I'll never experience those again. I could eat a jar a day when I stayed with them. I remember picking blackberries near their property and eating her homemade jams on warm biscuits. Also, she made the most impeccable zucchini bread. I vividly remember how much Genevieve enjoyed the fact that I genuinely loved her food. Moreover, I remember how much joy Harold got from having a young kid around. They never had children, but they did have a beautiful Sheltie dog for many many years.

Harold and Genevieve from the same visit in 1991.

The thing I admire most about Harold is how well he loved his wife. He really got that right. 97 is nothing to be sad about, but Harold will be missed.

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Blogger EFFIES WRITINGS said...

Dear Shenan,\
Your Goodbye to Unclwe Harold was wonderful. I remember the time we went to a beautiful fall in Oregon with Aunt Genevieve and Uncle Harold. We hiked up a trail to get a better look at the beautiful fall. I got the smart idea of hiking all the way to the top of the fall. Aunt Genevieve and Uncle Harold were waiting for us at the bottom. I had no idea it was going to take so long for us to make it to the top. When we finally came down I asked them if they were worried about us. Aunt Genevieve said "We were just worried sick." They had already talked to some workers there and they were just about on there way to look for us. I felt so terrible that day.
We were all so blessed to have them in our lives.
Uncle Harold is going to be cremated. He wants his ashes scattered in the sea. This is very fitting as he was in World War II and spent months on a ship.
I loved them both dearly.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Jones said...

I remember that trip to Oregon in 1989. Snow, rain, potholes, sliding across the road.....good times. The time I spent with Harold and Genevieve was brief, about a day, but I do remember their kindness. If I rememeber correctly, they took us out to dinner and showed us around the city of Portland. I still have a picture with them on the elevated, covered crosswalk that Doah and I thought was so cool. They were both very gracious and hospitable people.

It sounds like they both had a full and happy life. That's all one can ask for.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shenan, this is your sis lori... your goodbye to Uncle H was amazing. I could hardly read it through the tears. I know that Uncle Harold and Aunt Genevieve are reunited once again and that their love will continue on forever, but I miss him so much. I wanted to see him so badly one last time. I wanted bryce to meet him. He was a wonderful, inspiring, and amazing spirit. I will never forget mom and i's trips to oregon. They were wonderful people. i will miss Aunt Genevieve's cooking always too. They will be forever missed but I am so glad to have them as a part of my life. I love you Shen.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Dude, I am sorry for your loss. Its because of people like your Uncle Harold that makes this world a better place. I'm glad he led a full life and had an influence on you.

10:06 PM  
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