Uncle Gene

My head has been going around and around like a pet coon with it’s head chopped off.  Can’t seem to make myself focus and deal with one thing at a time.  Just so much going on and only so much time.  

We’ve dealt with death again over the past week plus a couple days and thus far I haven’t allowed myself to deal with it.  I don’t want to.  Obviously I’m going to have to, but just not now.

A week ago today I received the call that the patriarch of mom’s side of the family went home to see Gramma and Grampa and his little brother.  I broke down for a bit then regained my composure, had a moment at his visitation and a couple at the funeral, each time catching myself before completely breaking down into the ugly cry.  Each time there were people with me and I’m not one who likes people to see me cry.  Haven’t allowed myself to have that alone time to really think about the events of the past week and mourn.  Guessing this may be the time.

My Uncle Gene was a master story teller, wish I could do his justice.  He could sit and just tell story after story and us kids would just sit and eat up every word he said.  Years ago he started writing his story, he even sent a few pages here and there, hoping he had the opportunity to finish his book.

Gene Karl was born the second child and second boy of the family, born after his older brother had passed from sleeping sickness in 1942.  He was his mom’s favorite, at least that’s what his sisters have all said at various times over my life.  He was allowed to belch and fart at the table and the girls would get in trouble by their mom for fussing about it.  My mom has said he could do no wrong in their mother’s eyes.

Gene Karl grew up like my mom and aunts did…in The Hill, helping clean the school each afternoon after school, playing in the school band, helping his dad take care of the cemetery in town, helping the neighbor lady with quilting her blankets (he’d sit under the loom and grab the needle with needle nose pliers, pull the thread through and send it back up to her) and playing Taps on his trumpet whenever needed at the cemetery.

After he graduated he went to college at the SDSU, married his high school girl friend and became a band director in a small town in South Dakota and later in Orange City, Iowa until 1973.  

Guessing his family genes kicked in and he became a farmer, raising cattle and crops.  Oh, the fun we had going to his farm when we were kids, it was different than ours, maybe it was just the time spent there with family, with the cousins, running free and being one with nature!

During that time he also went to school to become an auctioneer and added that to his busy lifestyle.  He also started doing woodworking while on the farm.  

Think it was the mid-80’s when he was affected by the farm crisis of the era, he and his wife and their two kids headed up to Spirit Lake and got into running a camp ground.  He also got into the church, becoming a choir leader, preaching and eventually beginning his own construction comany that absolutely exploded for him and his family!  

Uncle Gene Karl also became the head of the family when Gramma passed away in 2003.  

There’s so much I can say about my uncle.  Such a wonderful, loving family man, a man with a heart as big as the moon.  He would summon us from time to time when we haven’t been to see him, when he decided to have a family function he expected the entire family to be in attendance when we all live at least two hours away.  He took us on boat rides, took us to the hot dog shop for all we could eat, he boasted to every person he knew that this was his family, so proud!  He built an entire room of layers of trains, there was The Hill as it was when he was a kid, the Loess Hills with soil from the Loess Hills (not far from the hills), there is an entire area that is built of the old Sioux City Stockyards, mom and dad’s farm, cattle and all with my dad on a horse moving cattle….AMAZING doesn’t even begin in describe it.  

The visitation for my uncle was jaw dropping.  Until the last half-hour or so the line when out the front door of the funeral home.  An hour after the visitation was to end my aunt and cousins finally were alone.  I’d seen huge visitations but nothing like that.  

The funeral was, just wow, the place was packed to the gills.  So many people knew and liked, enjoyed, loved and respected this great man.  The choir was out of this world, the preacher did such a wonderful job.  I know my uncle was looking down and grinning. 

Hugs and love to the world!  Grab your loved ones, hug them and tell them you love them.  Live hard, love hard!  No regrets!


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