As much as I love my brother and look forward to communicating with him whenever we can, I’ve come to dread phone calls from him because his calls usually relay bad news. He’s become the unofficial voice of my mom, especially when bad things happen.
For years, having a phone call from my brother meant that my dad was, once again, in the hospital because he’d fallen. However the last couple of bad news calls were announcements of a death. In March he called to tell me Larry had died. Today he called to tell me my mother’s youngest brother, “Bud”, was gone.
My first memory of my Uncle Walter “Bud” Green is hazy and possibly simply based on a black and white snapshot. I was maybe 3 years old and my Uncles Bud and Dick were watching me play in a kiddie pool. I must not have had a swimsuit with me because I was wearing a man’s white teeshirt. One of my uncles holds me over the kiddie pool and my feet come together in a sort of prayer: “No, don’t put me in the cold water!”
After that the memories mostly involve my cousin, Pam — Uncle Bud’s daughter, in the forefront, but Uncle Bud is there too. Sometimes my parents would leave my brother and me with my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Bud when they went out. Then there were the Christmas Eves at Uncle Bud and Aunt Shirley’s house.
I remember being in Chetek with Pam and her family — without my own family. I remember Uncle Bud stopping over to my parents house early one morning. I was getting ready to go somewhere — school perhaps and had made myself a cup of tea. I was at least 16, probably 18. Anyway, Uncle Bud was surprised I was drinking tea — thinking it was a grown up drink and I wasn’t yet grown up? I’m not sure.
My grandma told me stories about how Uncle Bud would get into all sorts of situations when he was a kid — from being born breech to getting so stuck in his undershirt when he twisted it all around she had to cut him out of it.
In later years, after I’d moved away from Elgin, I saw my Uncle only a few times. I heard about his health issues and how bravely he was dealing with the diabetes, the loss of his legs and his other surgeries.
The last time I saw him was a year or so after he lost both his legs. He was cheerful and optimistic and still had the boyish quality I remembered from my own youth.
One thing about my Uncle — he said it like it was. You always knew where you stood with him. He didn’t play games. If I was being bratty — he told me so. If I’d done something he was proud of, he told me that too.
If more people were brave enough to be like my Uncle Bud, in sickness and in health, this world would be much the better.
So long Uncle Bud.