My Uncle Jack died yesterday. We are not blood related, but I have very few people closer to me, in my heart than Uncle Jack and Aunt Leonette.
Claudia, his daughter, my heart sister, emailed late last night and I saw the message early this morning. I feel kicked in the head, yet again.
We were neighbors from my earliest memories. We walked to each others houses, crossing another neighbor's property all the time. In those days, it was no big deal.
We spent holidays and weekends with each other.
We helped restore the first boat that Uncle Jack owned. Uncle Jack, a red head, always burnt in the sun, but he didn't care, when we were out on the boat. Fishing, crabbing, clamming, wind in the hair, carefree spending time during the summer, down at the Jersey shore.
Uncle Jack was always like a father to me, especially, when my own father wasn't able to deal with a defiant teenage daughter. They loved me unconditionally and never judged stupid teenage choices.
He and Leonette are known as Pop Pop Jack and Noni to my children. They are grandparents to my children.
They were and are the only parents I have left.
I feel like an orphan, yet again.
Uncle Jack, I love you and I'll miss you.