Thursday, August 15, 2019

Uncle Roger


My uncle Roger passed away in New York this past July, 2019.  I have fond memories of him.   He was a slender man, very unassuming.  And by that, I mean, a little bit meek in his stance, thinning dark hair, and kindness in his voice.  He wore thick glasses and was not athletic looking, and if standing, spoke to you with his fingers pressed together, as if in a semi-praying manner. 

However, he was a surprise in so many ways.  He had the quickest wit of anyone I’ve known, and he could infuse humor and insight into the same sentences in a way that would make one reframe their experiences of the world.  And he loved tennis and played regularly. And he was truly a lovely man.

Uncle Roger listened and thought about the conversations he had with others. I was once at dinner with him along with a friend of mine who worked for a large record label in New York.  As Roger was catching up with both of us, he sensed something in my friend and asked him, “Do you feel appreciated at your work right now?”  His questions blew both of our minds because my friend had been having some issued with just that subject in his career. 

A decade earlier, I had been traveling the U.S. with another friend of mine.  Our plan was to stay with Uncle Roger and my aunt for a couple of nights during the middle of that trip.  When we arrived, he took us to see sumo wrestling at Madison Square Gardens.  It was such fun, and I never would have expected that kind of gift from him.  The experience remains with me today. 

Uncle Roger loved making gentlemen’s bets on pools.  For instance, if we were expecting some other relatives to arrive to our location, uncle Roger would ask, “Fred, what is your best guess of when Lane and Jack will arrive?"  I would give my answer, and he would ask anyone else who was around for their wagers.  It was the part of him that liked to run through the actuarial tables of life’s general activities.

At my cousin's wedding, he, the father of the bride, gave the funniest speech that I have ever heard.  In his speaking, he had a natural skill of working up to a climax in a story that was so well planned, a seasoned comedy writer couldn't have done better.  One of the comedic moments in that speech was when he described the search for a husband for my cousin having been exhausted in the United States, and having found a suitable match finally in England.  My cousin's husband is British by birth.  

Uncle Roger was an accountant and financial specialist.  And a very good one at that.  He was a partner in firms that were the most desired in New York.  And he loved his girls.  That is, my aunt, and my two cousins.  His love for them was in everything that he did.  He was gentle and attentive to them. 

He was successful in his life for all of these reasons.  Being a very respectable man, and as I found out from my cousin's writings about him after his death, having been a man who greatly valued respectable character in a person (in hind sight, I wish I could have hit that bar in every part of my own life, but I haven't...and I truly think that he did), a loving husband and father, and a man who in a very fundamental way wanted to understand the experiences of other people.

It has been years since I saw him, mainly because I haven't traveled to the east coast for a long while, and because his health declined in the past decade.  But my memories of him will always remain, and I was very fortunate to have been able to call him my uncle.