The last time I saw Uncle Carl he and Aunt Jeanne were two-stepping around my cousin Richard's makeshift dance floor to 'All My Exes Live in Texas' at his 90th birthday party down at the Colorado River in Arizona. He was scammed, thinking that we all just came for a big gala family Thanksgiving bash only to learn that we were all there for him. For the big 90. It brought tears to his eyes.
Carl was old fashioned. A manly man; tough, generous, good with a Porterhouse steak and a shotgun. Maybe some would have called him a good old boy, and perhaps he was.
This son of a blacksmith came to the California desert a lifetime ago and manged to parlay a worthless gold mining claim into one of the richest limestone mines in the west.
After he retired, he and my aunt traveled a lot and he always kept his shotgun in the motorhome. I ribbed him about that once and asked him if he kept it loaded (okay, so I was setting him up). He responded with a look like this might be being hit in the head lessons. Of course it was loaded, "what the hell good is it iffen it ain't loaded?"
"Well" I said, "that's illegal, Uncle Carl."
"I don't give a shit 'bout that Mike" waving me off with that infectious grin.
94 good years. No wasting away in a home for the infirm, he was elk hunting just a couple of years ago.
Our thoughts tonight are with my aunt, my cousins, and the family.