Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Am I Right, Am I Wrong?

I received some sad news today.  My uncle Abe, who used to take my brother and I around in his Wise potato chip truck and who was best known for his infamous phrase, "Am I right, am I wrong?" passed away last night after battling a host of illnesses that left his body too weak to fight anymore.
While I'm not broken up about my my uncle's death, I do have to say that it's sad that his final years were spent combatting the effects of several strokes, diabetes and the breakdown of his kidneys.  From what I remember of my uncle, he was always an incredibly opinionated man.  In fact, he pissed off so many people in his time that I remember holidays when you could cut the tension with a knife because Uncle Abe opened his mouth and uttered an insult that left a family member ready to bolt for the door.
I guess my uncle didn't really care that he was making people angry at him when he spoke his mind.  Abe escaped the Holocaust, hiding out with his family as they attempted to escape Poland.  And somehow, they managed to get out.  And so, when he came to the United States, he didn't care who he offended, he was free, he was safe and he was alive.  
Over the next several decades, Uncle Abe made lots of friends with his biting sense of humor and generosity but if you crossed him, well, watch out.  Abe's relentless insensitivity hurt many of my family members - so much so that my parents actually stopped talking to him and my aunt for several years.  
When my mom retired, she eventually mended fences with my aunt and now that Uncle Abe is gone it'll be interesting to see how things will change now that he's not around.  It is sad that at the end of his life he truly was a shell of the person he used to be.  So I choose to remember my Uncle as the spitfire he was. Sure he was a loose cannon, but when I think back on the time I spent with him what I do remember is that he always was good to me.  I guess that's what counts - remember the best in a person once they're gone.  In the end, Abe's famous line, "Am I right, Am I wrong?" is a testament to his life.  Whether he was right or he was wrong, my uncle lived his life on his terms.   

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