Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Uncle Fred Finn

My Uncle Fred has died at the age of 93. My journalism teacher always said avoid cliches like the plague, but Uncle Fred had a great innings and was possessed of all his marbles right until the end. My mother, who's 75, has now has lost all her (older) seven brother and sisters. She said: "I'm in charge now!" That was funny and also sad. You never stop being the youngest child.

Uncle Fred as a young man
I asked my sisters to send some snaps of Uncle Fred. They sent some which were, well, dreadful. (I am scion of two families who take bad photos - there is the full shot of sky, the blurry something in the foreground, the awkward side shot of someone's forehead. It's all there ).  But these un-posed un-photoshopped snapshots made me smile like no one's business.




Fred and his wife Peggy and family, 1980's
Family gathering: Fred, seated and Dad, middle (See what I mean about the photos? Classic!)
My sister Sharon with little Leah, Mum and Fred, 10 years ago

Uncle Fred and his brothers and sisters looked like their Dad, my Poppa. Poppa was from Ireland; a lovely, tall chap with enormous ears, a curly smile and a full head of hair. The kids inherited also his very gentle Irishness. They listened, they waited patiently for others to speak first, they smiled and nodded (and made wicked-funny little asides).

My Dad has always said there was no hurrying the Finn family into church for weddings, funeral and christenings. The whole lot of them would be standing around at the entrance, rocking back and forth, smiling to themselves, waiting for someone else to go in first.

"Oh hello Fred (surprised), fancy meeting you here. How are you?" Little giggle, smile, nod, rock back and forth.
"Good as Gold, Madeline. How's the family?" Smile, nod, little laugh.
And so on.

Fred, far left and Mum far right, waiting to go in somewhere

Uncle Fred loved nothing more than to be with other people, hear their stories and tell his own when it was his turn. He had a new lease of life when he went into a retirement home two years ago and wished he'd gone in sooner. He left behind six children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was the proper elder brother, taking responsibility for all the family trees and seeming to have endless knowledge of people's to-ings and fro-ings within the family. He once visited my cousin Martin who lives in Camberwell, London. Martin says: "I particularly remember him getting lost in London, us having no idea where he was and Sharon (my sister) coming round and laughing saying that he'd find his way back. We eventually got a call and he was nearby and in good shape. "

At the moment our ten year old, Cy, is constantly practicing his Irish accent. It's just one sentence: "There's no cause for suspicion, I'm just having a pint at the Irish pub." His accent is currently somewhere between Scottish and Russian. Uncle Fred would've had a good chuckle at that.

Until we meet again, Uncle Fred.






31 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Naomi. Think my Mum is sad it's only her now.

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  2. Beautifully done Jody! Uncle Fred was a handsome rascal and apparently quite a character. It sounds as if the Finn family was rock solid...or good as gold. Very sorry for you to lose him but 93 is a good long run and it sounds as if he got his money's worth.
    Thank you for sharing him with us!

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    1. GSL - he totally got his money's worth! My sister, Sharon. was sitting with him that morning and he was chipper as anything, apparently.
      He'd had heart failure and was taking into hospital. But then he asked to go home. In the van home was when he died.
      He had asked not to be resuscitated.
      Hope we all go with as much dignity.

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  3. How lovely was your Uncle Fred, I'm sorry Jody. The ones who have that quiet way about them with the humour just bubbling below the surface... they're the good ones.
    Sad for your Mum too I understand that, but what a good life he had, done properly wasn't it! xo

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    1. Yes we're all told now to be assertive and forthright and valuing the gentle and quiet seems to have has slipped from this generation

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  4. I'm so sorry Jody! Fred sounds like the best kind of rascal. Hard to be the last one standing in one's first family - I will send lots of prayers and good wishes to you all, but especially to your Mum!

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  5. So sorry for your loss. Fred was deeply loved and am sure he will be deeply missed.

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    1. He was a great fixture at any given family knees-up. He always made the effort.

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  6. I find this fascinating as it all sounds like my family. My mum is one of six siblings and there is a big Irish connection too (my mum's maiden name is Brennan). It's always great when the family get together- even for sad occasions.
    RIP Uncle Fred x

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    1. Lots of hanging around outside churches etc too?

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  7. Okay that Cy comment just said it all. What a great guy and so many of his generation right? Gentlemen through and through. Bless you for remembering this one. Thinking of your mum and you all. x Kim

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    1. Where does Cy get this stuff who knows? Is that a Spongebob line?
      At least he is off his Kardashian spree and he and Tallulah started watching Parks and Recreation which seems harmless

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  8. What a lovely story of an amazing man. You made him proud with this remembrance today, Jody. I'm sorry for your loss and the loss of that generation of your family. We will be celebrating my father-in-laws 90th birthday here in a couple of weeks. These moments are to be relished. Thinking of you and hugs today, xx

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  9. I love the photo with the jaunty sailor's hat. He looked a jolly man. RIP.

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    1. Funnily enough, we just saw some sailors in San Francisco, the uniform does not seem to have changed at all

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  10. So sorry Jody....your family stories and memories are so lovely.x

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    1. So enjoy your Ma and Pa stories, esp memories of France 30 years ago and warnings about the food, so funny

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  11. So sorry for loss. But, I love the way you describe Fred and your family. The photos remind me of my old family snapshots - very nostalgic. Happy days.
    Sx

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    1. Yes! I am an appalling shot... with a camera, at netball, snooker.... I always miss :-)
      Sx

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  12. Sorry to hear of your loss, but as you said it seems he had a full life. Finn eh? Well my Great Grandfather Michael Finn immigrated from Ireland in the 1850's, perhaps we're related. LOL

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    1. Yes, very probably. And I'm very sure both us of are (distantly) related to the Finns of Crowded House

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    2. He was actually my great, great grandfather, I'm not quite old enough for him to have been only a great.

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  13. What a lovely tribute. 93 years of good living: what a wonderful life.

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  14. My Dad was Fred. God bless all Freds and may they rest in peace.

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