He was my dad’s youngest brother, and probably one of the wildest of the bunch. He was quick to crack a joke, his shoulders shaking in laughter, his eyes twinkling.
He dreamed of Nashville, and as long as I knew him, he was always in a band or making music. He carried around notebooks of lyrics and his guitar and would sing and hum as he went.
He was a rascal, but it was hard to stay mad at him. He served in Vietnam, and often awoke sweating and screaming from the nightmares he saw there. His voice was raspy, and his hair was a tousle of curls. He usually sported a mustache or a goatee, and he was the definition of cool in the 70s, complete with a Chevy van.
When a break up with a boyfriend inspired me to write a song, he encouraged me and took me to a friend’s studio back in some New Hampshire barn. My uncle played guitar and bass, and then I recorded the melody and harmony. The harmony took the longest, as I couldn’t get the melody out of my head and kept switching back. But he worked with me, singing it over and over to me, until I got it. That night i walked away with a CD of my single, a Leslie Gore/Shelley Fabares type ditty that we played for friends and family. We even sang it live at one family gathering, although I’m sure I could have sung it better.
When my father passed away, my stepmom was inconsolable. My uncle was also troubled and missing his brother, and together they comforted each other. But remembering the one you missed isn’t always the best reason to form a relationship, and the differences between what they wanted and what they had caused the union to fizzle.
His health began to get the best of him. Diabetes, cancer, heart trouble. It all caught up until finally he just gave out. Last night he left us, more suddenly than I expected.
I had hoped to see him again, hug him again, watch his shoulders shake with laughter one more time. I wanted to see him strumming his guitar, his face lighting up with joy as the music flowed through him. But instead, I have the memories and the songs and that will have to be enough.
Rest in peace, Uncle Bardy. I love you.