an open letter to my nieces and nephews be they tulley or mcniece

30 08 2008

There are moments of brilliance in all this gray…I must stay sharp and attentive or I’ll lose sight of them all. There are quiet times around a table that my mom has great clarity about things long since lived. I had quizzed her just the other day about when they were engaged and got a mixed story. She didn’t think that they’d gone to a Cubs game but to some other game in Chicago.

Well with the internet at hand I just figured a good journalist does their best to facts check. The Sox were out of town that weekend in 1947 and isn’t it a bit bizzare that someone has taken the time to post the schedules from that long ago? The Cubs did play that day…and knowing what I do about our family – I don’t care how love sick my father may have been he would NOT have spent his hard earned cash on celebrating his engagement with wasting money on Sox tickets. It would NOT have been. And since most of this is memoire anyway – and the things about that day don’t hang on exactitude…I make the rules.

But there are times when I can cull more and more detail from her jumbled mind too – when the stars line up, when her blood sugar is good – I don’t know that there is a formula I can follow so I grasp and run when they tumble out of her mouth and call it gospel truth. There are times I feel a little like a detective – hearing the story 5 times in the space of a relatively short amount of time – I just cross check facts – if she repeats the same thing 3 times, I call that verifiable. So today’s recounting still had some of the same components plus a few others…two quite contrasting as a matter of fact.

When she got her diamond – they went to the apartment where she lived with her dad, and brother…her dad was over the moon and quite expressive and didn’t let them out of his sight till he prayed a blessing on them. That would be my Grandpa Cummer.

Next was the parade, then stopping by Billy’s house to show his folks. His dad, a civil engineer by trade had a holiday from work. July 4th…and he was busy hanging wall paper in a small bedroom upstairs. I can see my mom (motherless remember) looking for anyone to share in her joy – running up those dark wooden stairs. James Robert McNiece had his head down with probably a board stretched across two wooden saw horses making exact cuts in the wall paper to make it fit. She plopped her sparkely left hand down and said, “What do you think about that?” wiggling her left finger. And his reply was, “You’d better move your hand or I’ll cut your fingers off”…and as she told me the story she laughed and said, “It sounds like something your dad would say”…and to that I say amen and amen.

On one side I’m blessed with warm fuzzy sentimentalism from my dreamer grandfather – the watchmaker, jeweler, theologian, chess player, chocolate ice cream and oreos for breakfast- kind of guy. There will be much to say about him in the future – he was one of the most important people in my life for millions of reasons that you’ll hear all about. Then the other strand of my DNA has this seemingly cold, stoic, gruff, steel-eyed, no nonsense whammy from my dad’s family. And I see myself perfectly in that blend – delicate as it is.

So in an effort to really understand history so we understand ourselves better – I say I’m sorry I’m not warmer and fuzzier when you think I should be – but move your damn hand before I cut your fingers off. I still love you all – but telling you once in your lives is plenty. Get over it.

p.s.  Just in case I ever make it to the Oprah show – I kept doing everything I could to keep fact checking the Cubs game thing…then I found her “diary” from 1947 and they DIDN’T go to a game that day.  It wasn’t until the almost 12 days later…and it was the SOX.  My apologies to Billy for saying “he’d never”…

Here’s to you!  An Irish funeral prayerDo not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow; I am the diamond glints on the snow. I am the sunlight that ripened grain; I am the gentle autumns’s rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush, Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft star that shines at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there; I did not die



10 responses

30 08 2008

thank you,wendy lady. You gather up the lost boys and girls and make them your own. You tell us great stories round campfires and tables..stories that wake us from our Neverland slumber. You sternly put the mermaids and a stuborn little fairy in their place…and now with love you ask us, “boy, why are you crying?”

“I am not here, I did not die”

30 08 2008

uuuhhhhh…..what’s tulley…..from amber

30 08 2008

see guys…i told you i was the smart one….

30 08 2008

The French have the absolute best way of phrasing how I think we need to feel today … not only about Uncle Bill , but also about each other. All of us have been separated by time, space, and circumstance, yet we share a bond that requires that if nothing else, we take a moment to tie a dream and a wish and a memory to a shooting star. Pay it forward!!! “Au revoir, mes ami. Je t’aime”.

30 08 2008

amber and your less refined half…the answer to that question is a whole ‘nother blog…we are stoners by name only…since the gpa was adopted. his biological father was a tulley…what we need in this family is a bit more celtic vibe. missed you these days and thinking of you bunches.. w

31 08 2008

What a beautiful piece of heartache this has turned out to be, huh Jer? Love you all…these have been the best 24 hours in some strange way. Great to see all of you. I have made it home and I can already tell that my tree is about to rebound…

31 08 2008
Buddy McNiece (only born son!)

To William E’s GRANDchildren all: may each of us carry the spirit of whistlin’ Bill to someone who needs it most. You are a delight to this old Unk.

31 08 2008
the Howard mama

How is it possible to laugh and cry at the same time??

31 08 2008
Amy Jo

Couldn’t wait to get home and see the blog – and more importantly, THE PICTURE!!!!! I echo Jason’s sentiments. I had the best time at my grandpa’s funeral. Weird to say, however, having my brother and all 5 of my cousins present was perfection. It’s strange how over all these years, we can still laugh and remember and drink to days past and to the legacy that lives on in us all. And, I am glad that Jeremy fessed up because it provided one of the best moments of Friday night. I love you all. Let’s continue this line of communication opened up by our shared grief!
PS – to my Aunt Wendy – I love you, too! And we knew it even if you hadn’t said it!

30 09 2008
I am kicking ass and taking names! « 1eyedmonkee

[…] about my Granddad when my Mom went to show off her new engagement ring?  Refresh your memory in an open letter to my nieces and nephews be they tulley or mcniece.  I am channeling him these days.  I feel surly and churlish – trying to get a job done because I […]

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