carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

My Uncle John

on February 19, 2019

I had two Uncle Johns. One on my father’s side and one on my mother’s side. The one on my father’s side lived in New Jersey and died over 10 years ago. My mother’s brother, the youngest of the group and the last one of that generation on that side of my family died in late January. He was 98 years old.

This was taken the last time I visited with him in 2014 (maybe?)


He was born and spent a large part of his life in Louisville. He fought in WWII. Stationed in England as an Army Air Corps intelligence officer. He married a Welsh woman and brought her to America, where she gave birth to twin girls. Something must have happened… she and the twins moved back to Great Britan. And nothing was ever said about them again. I only know because they are recorded on our extensive family tree and because I have this newspaper clipping.

The twin daughters waiting to board a plane to go back to England.

Anyway, my Uncle John married again when I was about 9 or 10. He married Thelma, who I thought was very glamorous because she worked (!!!!) and they lived in an apartment (!!!!!!) (very shocking when you grow up in the US suburbs in the 60s). They did not have children. I can remember that Thelma (and maybe John) brought me a lunch box on my first day of elementary school. I also went to see The Nutcracker with them. And they had me down for dinner. Of all my many Aunts and Uncles I did the most with them. They were a very special couple.

But Uncle John was special too. He was always a happy person. He sang little bits of songs and whistled. I know that is why I do that too. Because of him.

He and ‘Thel’ moved to Florida. On a trip back to Kentucky, John and Thelma came to visit me when I lived in Wilmington. None of my many other Aunts and Uncles ever stopped by. Aunt Thelma died in Florida a number of years ago. Uncle John lived near her relatives and was getting along okay until he more or less got ‘lost’ driving somewhere. My mother was still alive when that happened. One of my cousins (possibly the oldest one) Bob and his wife, Cheri, moved Uncle John up to Indianapolis where they were living and got him an apartment at facility there. That was 2003. For all this time they have been responsible for him. Even though he was not in their house they still visited and had to be ‘on call’ for him. How fortunate Uncle John was to have them. And how caring and loving it was of them.

So a number of years ago, when I was living in Italy, I started to search for Uncle John’s twin girls. With the help of my British friend, Jules, I found them. Through an intermediary I contacted them and asked if they would like to to know about their father, if they would like to come visit me in Italy or just anything….. One of them had died as a young adult and the other wanted nothing to do with me and no further contact with me. (Okay, who in England doesn’t want a cousin in Italy?) Anyway, I have respected that. And I will not try to contact her about her father’s death. But I will tag him in this post so that maybe if she ever searches for him it will show up.

John Harvey Gudgel Jr was a kind, gentle, sweet man who always had gum in his pocket to share, a smile on his face, a joke to tell and a laugh that was infectious. I will miss him.


2 responses to “My Uncle John

  1. Jules Hardy says:

    Lovely story Martha, I remember looking for the twins, how sad that the surviving twin won’t know her father died. I no longer have the details, so remind me just in case I’m in the area one day x

    Like

  2. Mike says:

    Like you (and most of us in our age group…though you’re younger than me), our parent’s generation are mostly gone. They saw so much change; it’s amazing!

    Like

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