One of the prime examples of this is my sister's namesake, Uncle Dick. No, kellyangel's name isn't secretly Dick. She was named for Richard Kelly. Uncle Dick was my father's first wife's uncle, whom dad stayed close with after he and wife #1 separated. My sister and I never knew him as anything but Uncle Dick, and it wasn't until well into high school that I found out he wasn't really even a blood relative. When we were small, Uncle Dick, and his partner, Uncle Gerry, were always part of our lives. I barely remember visiting them on the Jersey Shore, and I've seen a ton of photos of them visiting us in Maine.
After we moved to California, any visit back East always included a stop to see Dick and Gerry. I'm pretty sure they came to see us in Los Angeles at least once or twice, too. But once we moved to northern California, they didn't travel as much, so we saw them less and less.
Spring Break my Freshman year of college, I took the train from Erie, PA to Grand Central Station, where Uncle Dick picked me up, and I spent a week hanging out in Jersey with Uncle Dick and Uncle Gerry. It was more relaxing time than anything. I spent alot of time reading and playing with the dogs. But Uncle Dick took me to see my first Cabaret show in New York City, the off-Broadway show "The Last Session" (for which he got me a soundtrack autographed by the whole cast), and my first (and only) talk show taping-- The Richard Bey Show in Seacaucus, NJ. The photo here is me, with co-host Renee Hambley, who later went on to produce such amazing series as Dr. Laura.
Uncle Gerry passed shortly after that, and I knew it was really really hard on him. A few years later, when dad and I dropped by for a visit, we went to see a show with him, and at one point, during a particularly moving song about relationships and love, he wept, and grabbed for my hand in the dark. I don't know that he ever got over the loss of Uncle Gerry, and for me the devotion that the two of them had for each other has been, and always will be, a shining example of what love really is.
I tried to get down to Brick, NJ as often as I could to visit, but it was never enough. I always wished it could be more. But when I could make it down, there was always the warm welcoming arms of family, and a house filled with wonder.
Uncle Dick was the head of household at a large hotel in New York City for a very long time. He had amazing friends like Ann Miller, Mickey Rooney, and Dody Goodman, who I was blessed to get to meet and lunch with a few times before she passed away in 2008. His walls were covered in photographs of all of his friends, autographed to him, and when I visited him shortly after starting to perform professionally in Boston, he demanded an autographed headshot of me to include in the mix.
Dick was an avid lover of Broadway, and had a myriad of original soundtracks on vinyl, many of which he gave to my dad a few years ago. I've since absconded with them, and have been slowly capturing them digitally as time allows.
When I was born, Uncle Dick gifted me with a Bible. It was written in Hebrew, with a Latin frontace piece listing the printing date as 1603 (although a different page lists it as 1588, so...). This is probably the most amazing thing I own, hands down. I'm trying to get in touch with someone in the Stanford Library to get it into a protected collection on permanent display... but I'm not having alot of luck yet.
Uncle Dick was just this amazing human being, so full of life, and always ready to love unconditionally. I hope that I can live up to his example and spread warmth and joy and friendship like he did. I know that he touched more lives that I can possibly count, so I've got alot of catching up to do.
This afternoon, around 2:45 Eastern time, Uncle Dick passed away due to complications after surgery. He will be cremated and put in the same vault as Uncle Gerry. I know, deep down inside, that they're rejoicing to be together again after so long...
I love you Uncle Dick.
Lucky to have known you