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Good Night and God Bless, Uncle Jeff, I Wish You a Pleasant Journey

March 7, 2012

March 3, 2012 we lost my Uncle Jeff age 59 to cancer, Jeff was my father’s youngest brother.  We found out February 26th, thanks to our cousin Duane,  that Jeff was in the hospital.  Uncle Jeff passed away the following weekend.  We knew he had battled cancer before, as we were told in passing at my grandfather’s funeral about 3 ½ years ago, being communicative was not in my uncle’s nature.  His death was sudden, to us, and a shock and it has brought back memories of our father’s death 9 years ago, it is also yet another reminder that you lose the people you love, though you are apart time doesn’t stand still and life moves on and ends.

You can see the mischievous gleam in his eye, but there was no denying he was an adorable little boy.

My uncle, Jeffrey Lansing Ebert, was one of a kind and sort of like a naughty Peter Pan.  I don’t think he ever quite grew up completely, always joking and rarely serious, and always ready for fun.  He was almost 19 when I was born so I don’t think he was quite ready to be a serious uncle, he was more of a playmate, oftentimes just a great big kid. He had such a personality and attraction, people just wanted to be around him.

When my mom went back to work my sister and I would stay with my grandparents, and once we started school our grandparents would take us to school and pick us up when school let out.  I remember eagerly waiting for my Uncle Jeff’s white mustang to pull up in front of the house each afternoon once he was done with work and the gym.  I had fun with Uncle Jeff, and enjoyed being around him and couldn’t wait for Uncle Jeff to come home and play.

Jeff was as tolerant as our grandparents were of our silly and childish ways.  He never complained as I strummed away on an out of tune acoustic guitar thinking I was really playing something special.  Hmm…maybe it wasn’t out of pure kindness that I was told I could take the guitar home with me.

My grandmother had an ash blonde wig hanging around and I would put it on everyday as soon I got home from school and wouldn’t take it off until I went home.  I am not sure but I always suspected that he had a hand in snatching the wig from my head while I was sleeping, at the height of my wig madness.  He looked like the cat that ate the canary when I woke up horrified that the wig was gone.  The five year old and her wig were separated and the wig was never to be seen again.

Oh so 70's! This picture was taken at Great Uncle Carl and Great Aunt Irene's house. My grandmother on the left, my mom, Uncle Jeff, and Great Aunt Irene on the right.

Uncle Jeff gave me one of my most favorite birthday presents ever, a Dawn doll on a musical stand for my third birthday, and a favorite Christmas gift a Living Skipper doll-they were left behind somewhere with my Blythe doll  and others when we left Wisconsin; but those particular gifts will always have a special place in my memories and hold the magic of childhood.  In 1979 we moved to Florida, I was seven, and communication was pretty much non-existent as happens sometimes when family moves far away.

This is a picture I know so well of Uncle Jeff sleeping on the recliner in our first home.

We only visited my grandparents as a family once, and both grandparents came down separately for visits a few times; but sadly our uncles were never able to make it down to see us.  Luckily, though not as often as I wished, my sister and I went to visit our grandparents as we got a bit older, and seeing Uncle Jeff was always part of the visit because he had bought my grandparents’ house from them and my grandparents continued to live there with him.

Uncle Jeff enjoyed spending time with us, but I don’t think he really knew how to deal with us sometimes, being a confirmed bachelor with no children of his own. I always hoped he would get married and give us some cousins, but it simply was not to be.  The greatest love of his life was a beautiful and loving Springer spaniel named Holly. I was lucky enough to meet and spend time with her on several visits.  Holly was such a sweetie pie of a dog.  Jeff adored Holly and the feeling was mutual.

Jeff's beloved Holly, a sweet and loyal friend.

I remember when we went to Milwaukee for my grandmother’s funeral, we went to visit our Uncle Jeff with our father, our grandfather was in the hospital at the time, so he was alone in the house.  Jeff wanted us all to stay the night.  Looking back, I can see that it was Uncle Jeff’s way of telling us he loved us and wanted us around and that he didn’t want to be alone.  He gave up his bed for my sister and me, which was an act of love and chivalry too, one I might not have realized at that time almost 11 years ago.  Though, come to think of it, the Ebert men did seem to like sleeping on couches and recliners.

The last time I saw Uncle Jeff was over 3 years ago when my grandfather passed away.  Veronica and I went to Milwaukee for grandpa’s funeral, and both of our uncles were happy to see us, it had been 5 ½ years since our father’s funeral which had been a very painful experience for many reasons.

After our grandfather’s funeral, there was a little gathering at a local bar with food and drinks after the burial and my sister and I spoke at length with our uncles and it was so nice.  Jeff had asked the relatives we were staying with (Alcira my mother’s cousin and her husband Publio-two of the nicest people) if we could all come and visit him before Veronica and I went back.  They readily agreed to take us for a visit.

We went to his house, after a Packer’s game, and he was there with Aunt Vera, my uncle Rick’s girlfriend, her daughter Michelle and a friend who asked us to call him “Wolf” he was a bit tipsy but quite entertaining.  Veronica went upstairs with Jeff to look at some pictures, and I stayed downstairs with Alcira and Publio, because I didn’t want to leave them alone.  We stayed a while and had a nice visit.  When we left I told him to call, knowing he wouldn’t as it wasn’t his style, but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

On a more recent visit, I told Uncle Jeff I wanted a picture of him. He proceeded to a basket of clean, folded laundry, got out some underwear and put it on his head-and they remained there whenever I had my camera.

He joked and teased, as he loved to do, while saying his goodbyes, and that is how I will always remember him.  My uncle, who never quite finished growing up, who loved us and missed us, even if he didn’t know always quite how to put it into words.  I wish our relationship could have been different and that we had been closer but I have to be content with what it was and know one day we will meet again and he will no longer be in pain or lonely.  Rest in peace, Uncle Jeff, I love you and God Bless.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2012 1:41 am

    beautifully written, what sweet memories you have of him

  2. March 7, 2012 1:56 am

    Oh that’s an awful nice post you wrote. I don’t remember the guitar! I do remember Holly stealing my place in bed and having to sleep around her. Gee! It’s so tragic and sad.

    • March 7, 2012 2:08 am

      It’s very important to me to have your stamp of approval. So thank you! Oh, be glad you don’t remember the guitar, I would strum away dreaming of stardom…not knowing there were, you know actual chords to play.

      Yes the Holly and Veronica game was hilarious, she was so sweet, I can certainly understand why he loved her so.

      Indeed tragic and sad, sweet sis of mine.

  3. March 7, 2012 4:38 am

    Such a heartwarming post! Loss can be bittersweet. Certainly hurtful as we long for the form, yet beautiful with memories such as this that can make us smile.

    *Inspiring*

  4. Randall J. Wilk permalink
    October 2, 2012 5:35 pm

    Thank you for your memories of Jeff, and the wonderful pics from bygone days. A sweet reminder of change and the preciousness of present moment being. That is all there really is.

    As young kids growing up in West Allis, and in to adulthood, Jeff was always my best friend. Bobby was also a very close friend of mine; Rick also. I am certain that I was around when you were born. I too moved away in the late ’70s seldom seeing Jeff. But when we got together or an occasional talk on the phone, there was no distance. We carried on like the brothers we were. Aurelia and Elmer were my parents. They were so very good to me when my biological mother was not so kind.

    I found your blog entry by googling Jeff’s name as I am still in a daze by it all. I planted a 6′ Leyland cypress in my front yard and I quietly dedicated to my dear, dear friend. I call it the Jeffrey tree.

    I had to write you because I share the love you have for Jeff. God Bless.

    Randy (Olympia, WA)

    • October 2, 2012 6:30 pm

      A million thanks to you for commenting. I am very happy that you found joy in reading the post and looking through the pictures. It’s so hard seeing people we love go, especially when it seems before their time. My dad, Bobby, has been gone over 9 years and it seems like forever ago and yesterday at the same time. My grandparents, Aurelia and Elmer, were simply the best grandma and grandpa a girl could ask for. Rick is the last Ebert male standing and enjoying life on his hobby farm.

      Planting a tree in honor of Jeff is a lovely and lasting tribute. God Bless you and yours.

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