Cool Uncles

29 05 2013

FesterApologies in advance for my liberal, Fonzie-esque usage of the word “cool” in this post.

Cool Uncles are a universal truth. There are more Uncles than parents, and lots more nephews and nieces than sons and daughters. My second favorite alias is “Uncle John”. First is “Dad”, but that is too large a subject for a measly blog post. My point is – I’ve had them, I am one… deal wit dat!

I love all my nieces and nephews. They currently range from 16 to 32 years old. They live as close to me as a few miles, and as far as 700 miles away.

All the relationships are good ones, some tighter than others. Measurable stuff these days as we are Facebook and/or Twitter connections, and I have all their cell phone numbers… “Hey bitches!” I’m sure that with them I get a coolness bump that I don’t have with my boys. And I’m also sure that my boys think their Uncles are pretty cool.

Joe Langan, my Dad and grand philosopher, used to say… “Aaahh, family. That’s what it’s all about.” Like my boys, the nieces and nephews are all hitting the various high points in life… graduations, prom, first cars, new jobs, boyfriends and girlfriends… all great stuff. I’m sure there is drama in their lives too, but that’s not my problem – another cool Uncle thing. My nephew David just got engaged, which is very cool! I’m sure that in no time I will be the coolest Great-Uncle ever!!! The thuds you just heard were my sisters fainting…

Looking back, I thought my Uncles were cool as well…

  • Uncle Mickey was a rebel, like his namesake, Michael Collins. He spent time in prison in Belfast, then had a long career in the US Army. A good, good man, full of stories, energy, and love of family. He lost his son, my cousin Michael when we were kids. There are five of my cousins in Ireland somewhere… I wish we were all still in touch.
  • Uncle Ed was a tall, quiet man… always present at our house on holidays. His car was left to me when he passed… a white 1965 Plymouth Satellite with red leather interior. Still my favorite car.
  • Uncle James was always smiling and laughing… he told the best jokes! I could write a completely giddy blog about the O’Hagan family… our dearest friends from my childhood.
  • Uncle Frank was great… Outwardly a little cantankerous, but I saw his heart of gold. I was fortunate to spend a summer in Colorado with the Falsettos when I was in high school… the best time. Forever glad that I got to have some quality time with him and Auntie Anne before they left us.

My only Uncle today is Tom Langan, my Dad’s brother. Perhaps the coolest of them all. My Dad passed in 2009 after a series of strokes left him unable to do much. While his body was willing, his mind wasn’t. Right now his brother Tom is going through the exact opposite thing. He is still the same sharp, intelligent, funny man… but his octogenarian body is letting him down a bit these days. While he is the only remaining link to that generation of Langans, I don’t think he is going anywhere soon!

Très cool Tom Langan is resolute that he wants to live his way. I admire that so much, maybe because my Dad didn’t get the opportunity. His daughters worry, because they want him to be safe… I do too. But what makes Uncle Tom so very cool is that his determination isn’t wrapped in anger. Because he’s such a good man, he is taking things in thoughtful stride. Granted I am not there all the time, and maybe my cousins would tell a slightly different story. But at 85 he’s earned the right to be a little stubborn. It’s that wonderful stubbornness that I hope to emulate, when the time comes. The thuds you just heard were my sons fainting…

I’m way too loud to ever be associated with quiet strength and dignity. I think my Dad had it, as does his brother. Although they were very different men and traveled on very separate roads, those Langan boys will always be two of the coolest cats I know.

I hope to keep visiting my Uncle as much as possible. Not sure if he gets anything out of it, but I sure do. I like to bend his ear about the family and my Dad. Because family is what it’s all about.

Be cool.

Bulleit_Rye_ManhattanMy Uncle Tom passed away on July 8th.  On his terms, in his home in Ocean City, NJ.  I got to visit with him a few times since I wrote this post, as recently as a couple of weeks ago.  As usual, we had a great talk.

Manhattans all around, on me…




6 responses

11 07 2013
Fran Taylor

Well put John. I will have to have a manhattan in honor of Uncle Tom. Cheers

1 06 2013
Patricia Langan Zlakowski

Best blog, to date!

29 05 2013
Joanne Langan

Ya got me. 😥

29 05 2013

You’re easy…

29 05 2013

Very, very cool. As long as you’re not the uncle who thinks he’s the cool one, but really makes everyone cringe. 😉

29 05 2013

I’m both!

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