Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1655. Mike Bravo

Holy crap, it's Uncle Mike! What a surprise.

I never knew Uncle Mike that well. Let's just say that I have a confusing family history. Without getting too into it, my grandmother's brothers and sisters weren't all her brothers and sisters. There were half-brothers and half-sisters, a family tree with crossed branches. Uncle Mike was, in fact, Great Uncle Mike. There was an Uncle Ralph as well, Auntie Helen, Auntie Nancy, an Aunt Jenny I never knew. But I consider myself lucky. I had a lot of family members of that generation, and I even met my great-grandmother, who lived until I was 16.

One of the funniest moments I ever spent, I spent with Uncle Mike. We were at Uncle Louie's, when Uncle Louie was preparing to move. I promised to help lug furniture. We were carrying an organ - we were one of those Italian families, many of us trained on keyboards (yes, even me) to play things like "Begin the Beguine" and "Moon River" - out to the truck. There were four of us, and I remember thinking "just drop it guys, and I'll take it myself." It was too complicated, like everything our family ever did. We reached the curb and one of the guys said, "OK, we're gonna put it down now." As it lowered, the three of them - Uncle Mike and two of his sons - all started talking at once. They each kept going, ordering, criticizing, talking, until the second the organ touched the ground. Then they stopped dead silent. I never, ever felt so Italian.

I went to Uncle Mike's wake, and it was a bizarre week. His sister passed away within seven days. We all went to the next wake, the same crowd, just standing in different places.

And look at that, Uncle Mike served in World War II with the Navy. I never knew that. I am so glad I found him. I'll be back on Veterans Day. I'm so proud he was my Uncle Mike.

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