They must be having a grand ole time up in Heaven today. My Uncle Heber went home. I’m sure he's got the angels there laughing so hard that they might just forget, for a bit, that there are a lot of folks down here missing the big guy.
I loved my Uncle Heber! As a child from a large family and even more humongous extended family (I know the cousin count is over 60), I always felt he took the time to play, tease or even notice me. My nose would mysteriously disappear between his fingers, when I was young. It would get a good washing in his mouth before I could beg it back. Laughing, til it hurt so much we had to cry, was a given. Maybe it was his straight delivery. He could tell the biggest whopper with the most serious expression and raised eyebrows. The twinkle in his eyes would always give away the fact that he was pulling a fast one on you. And if it didn’t the next line zinger would.
Even after I’d grown up, had a family of my own, moved far, far away and didn’t visit very often, I still felt he cared. He would always take the time to chat it up with me personally on every occasional visit. It felt like I hadn't been gone for long at all, maybe a couple of days instead of the years that it actually was. A few years ago I was able to take my family and stay the night with him and Aunt Loretta on the Black Family Farm in Juniper, ID. His health was hurting him then, but he was still the same Heber that I knew and loved as a child. I’ll never forget him hauling out his oxygen tank and strapping it to a four wheeler so that he could take my boys for a spin around the farm. And he took special notice of my tom-boy Lea. ‘If I had a women’s football team, I’d want her on it,’ he told my mom.
If he couldn’t bring a smile to your face by hearing a joke I’m sure you would get one from the visual gags found around him. My favorite was a large wooden sign on his front lawn welcoming you to 'The Ugly Club Headquarters.' Honorary club members included Don Knott’s and Barbara Streisand. I doubt they ever knew he made them honorary members but it was a great sign. Even better was the fact that he would often put on his fishing hat and pose next to the sign for anyone who asked.
Well dear Uncle, I’ll miss your chuckle, the twinkle in your eye, that great bear hug you always had waiting for me, and most of all your mischievous smile. I’m sure you have all of heaven busting a gut with pleasure to have you back home. From you I'll try to remember, that when times get tough, and they will, it always helps to have a little humor. And I hope you don’t mind if I wear an ‘Honorary Ugly Club Member’ pin to your funeral. Any club that you’re the founder of is where I want to be. I hope everyone in this life is as fortunate as I, to have someone as funny as you, that cares about them. Love and Miss you!