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11:27 a.m. - 2005-12-10
To Uncle J.
My mom called this AM and told me that Uncle J's sisters and Uncle G can't find his veteran's discharge papers, so he will have to be cremated and buried in Potter's field, because nobody can afford a real funeral.

We know he had been treated at the VA, so my SIL told them to go there and see if they had a copy or maybe the original. He had to present them to get treatment, so they have to have something.

Meanwhile they are going to get him cremated, and take the ashes home so we can all throw together money and pay for the VA burial when we find the papers. We can probably cover the funeral home costs if nothing else right now, and that's good enough.

Apparently he and Uncle G invested some money with a shady broker somewhere in the mid-west so there are funds, but no one is quite sure how ot access them. The sisters, since marriage is not legal between a man and woman and there is no will/legal protection for him, have told him that he is going to get all the money, though they have to get it first as next of kin. Hopefully there will be enough to cover the funeral.

I'm not sure what's going to happen to Uncle G. He hasn't eaten in years, but still hangs on with only beer as nutrition. Uncle J thought that G would go first. He always did. He was the care taker and wanted to be able to care for G through the end.

G is in a bad way. I understand that he is bent over, with his hair down past him shoulders, and his beard nearly to his feet in his crippled state. He hasn't bathed in months. The household had been falling apart due to dimentia thirty or more years of hard alcoholism. The family has tried to do what we could, but both men were resiliant to help and were obstinate in their chosen lifestyle.

It wasn't always that way. Both men had high profile, stylish careers back in the day. Both were handsome, and gracious and dined with the fast and famous. They were natural creatures of New York. They never admitted out loud that they were gay, but the family has known and accepted that for years. To me they were always my Uncles, though Uncle J is really a cousin. My mother loved him so much and he in turn loved me so much that they bamboozled the Catholic church into making him my Godfather. How many Catholics have an alternative lifestylist as Godfather, whose parents would have raise their child in conjunction with his life partner in the event of both their deaths?

I remember best trips to the Central Park Zoo, walks through The Village, peering over the top of the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centers where Uncle J last worked in the gift store at the top of building 1 or 2? Broadway shows and talk of auditions, modeling contracts offered and considered, but rejected by my mom because she wouldn't let go. Street markets, hot dogs, pizza eaten folded in half NY style. My first Chinese delivery. Dinners at exclusive restaurants where Uncle J would order my meal for me, and always got me a Peach Melba for Dessert, followed my a Brandy Alexander, because it had milk in it - but really to put me to sleep.

As I got older there were comedy clubs, flirting with doormen, excursions with Jim from next door. A beautiful man from St. Thomas who looked after my Uncles. I had a huge crush on Jim and still do. At 80, he looks 35-40 and is still just as attractive.

Trips to the cabin in the Catskills in winter, drying my freshly washed hair by the fire while Uncle J made some of teh best dinners I've ever tasted. Exotic things like quiche...

I love you Uncle J. Thank you for loving me and taking care of me. Thank you for my worldly expeeriences and setting me on the path to living globally. Thank you for my ability to accept people as they are, in whatever skin, culture and lifestyle I find them. Thank you for some of the happiest memories of my youth. Thank you for spending the holidays with us after my father died, leaving a wide, gaping hole in our hearts. You helped make the hole a little smaller. Thank you for wanting me.

Last night, I bought Brandy Alexanders, and Six, Sully, Dee, Ryan and I toasted to Uncle J.

"May he rest in merriment."

Because he would never enjoy resting in peace...


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