Tomorrow I head out for my uncle Gusty’s funeral.  Let me tell you about him.

He was a husband and father — and OLD SCHOOL husband and father.  He did everything he could to provide for his family – he worked hard in the mines, he paid attention to his kids’ school activities, attending them… he was devoted to his wife.  He did it all in that tough, old school, blue-collar way.  Sports, school matters, providing for them all … he was that way.

He contributed to his community as well.  He was aware of the local politics of the town, participating when he could.  He served on the school board, so he and I (as a retired teacher) could talk about what was going on.  He served in the military.  He was a good citizen.

He came from a large family – 9 boys and a girl.  He was right in the middle of the pack.  I always thought it was kind of cool that he grew up in that house, and then he and his family moved into that house later on, so that house stayed in the family a LONG time.  There’s something just so right about that kind of thing.

My family (my dad was one of those 9 boys) lived just 2 houses away, so my sisters and I would often get a phone call to babysit for a night so he and his wife Joanne could go out for the night …. Many a time we walked from our house to theirs late at night – but when we babysat at Gustie’s, we got to watch late night TV, which was always fun.

My dad and Gusty took me fishing often … one particular trip found us heading out for a night fishing session on the St. Louis River… the only place in the area where we could land some nice catfish.   Well, it was one successful night, let me tell you!  We brought home 6 catfish… one of them was a great big 12 pounder that Gusty brought in after a good 20 minute battle – I used to have a picture of us standing there in their basement, holding that stringer of fish and seeing that large one stand out so much more.  A memorable night indeed.  He was in a fine mood that night, due to our success … and I could tell, because when he was in a good mood, he’d call me “Chucker”…..

The funeral is 2 1/2 hours away.  I’ll get on the road by 7 and get to the church (the same one our families went to when I was growing up …. ) in plenty of time to visit with the family and all the others who will be there.  Gusty lived in the same town his whole life, so there will be many folks there – a good many of whom I haven’t seen in many years … and it will be good to see them all.  I am also honored that I will be playing TAPS at the graveside ceremony … we’ll have a light lunch at church, and then I will return home over that same road.

Goodbye, Uncle Gusty.  (By the way, his real name was Robert.)  You done good.