My mother was the youngest of three children, Arthur, Sharon and Mary. My Uncle Arty never shied away from being a source of joy in my life. The word doting could almost be an understatement.
He passed away after 71 years of life last Saturday night, I had been waiting for the call for a few days feeling helpless. He was a metallurgist, and retired from Crucible Steel Co. living in Florida. He had gone into the doctor's with what he thought was a cold and discovered, like his baby sister before him, he was losing a battle to lung cancer. He lasted about a week.
When I found out he was sick last week, there wasn't anything I could do but think of him constantly. He was the only son of an only son and had no children, the Rhoades name died with him. One of my thoughts was, when I finally got around to changing my name, to change it to Mary Rhoades. I don't know what people would think, but I more or less gave up caring about that a while ago.
Art was an incredibly funny man, dry humor and great wit. He could make my mother laugh till her face turned red. I am not sure what kind of time my brothers and sisters spent with Uncle Arty, but I had many many hours of him and I on the golf course on the weekends. He used to leave his lit Pall Mall on the ground while he tee'd off and walk the fairway with it peacefully. He more or less golfed everyday for the last sixteen years.
He married my Aunt Ruth about the same time he retired. He was a very tall, dark haired and lean man. Ruth is petite and blond. She has an classic kind of Hollywood style to her and the laugh to match. When it came to cute they were the definition. They built a house in Florida and golfed together everyday and were happy. Ruth has had poor health recently and loosing her sight, I hope she'll come home to Syracuse to be near my Aunt Sharon.
I regret not spending more time with him as of late, I wish I had a few more conversations with him under my belt. The thought of what I am missing from his perspective drives me to heartbreak. When I was little time with Uncle Arty was an absolute treat and I of course adored him. His sisters gave him quite the fan club with ten nieces and nephews between them. Although my father's side of the family was large and near rowdy in comparison, my mother's was small. There was always all the attention in the world to be had from Grandma Ella, Uncle Arty, Great Uncle John and Great Aunt Kate, and of course Aunt Sharon and Uncle Eddie.
I would sit through long afternoons drinking tea with that list of people on a very regular basis. I was the only little one around and I had them all to myself. Then came the strokes, cancer and time. Now what absolutely breaks my heart is Aunt Sharon. Growing up surrounded by my family the thought of solitude frightens and sickens me. I can not imagine not having my siblings. There is little I wouldn't trade to give Aunt Sharon another afternoon at her kitchen table with Ella and Arthur Rhoades, John and Kate Ryan and Mary Margaret. I'm glad Aunt Sharon and Uncle Eddie have moved, to walk into that kitchen now would really hurt. In my mother's family Aunt Shar is all we have left.
From my Uncle's backyard in Florida you could watch the rockets launch from Cape Canaveral while you were sitting in his hot tub. You could walk to any restaurant in town or drive your golf cart. The long hours in the sun left Uncle Arty's skin dark but Aunt Ruth would wear a hat. I have many little pieces in my jewelry box from Uncle Arty. There is the silver golf bag charm on a chain and the gold and abalone dolphin pendant he gave me soon after he settled on moving to Florida. One is a piece he gave my mother. Its a gold and scarab bracelet and I won't be taking it off for a while. Time will take what you love away from you, your love alone is all that is eternal.