This is an excerpt from the yet unfinished book. It was written on my 73rd birthday. At the time I was living in London, England on Coptic Street near the British Museum. I awoke, and rather accidentally found an article written about my uncle which caused the following to be written.
“ On my birthday I find this in iPhoto. It is such a gift, I think it was part of what Will Chabun brought with him that day in December 2015 in Regina, Saskatchewan I took a picture of it with my iPhone and now it resides in iPhoto. How this works I have no idea but I have the Apple Store. This is from the Regina Leader Post of July 14, 1948. I quote from the paper:
“The pretty speech just wasn’t in him but under the toughness, there was the Dryburgh heart, Too big and soft for his own good. Everybody put the bee on Dave in some way or another and Dave was good at it—whether it was to lend a sympathetic ear to a person confidence, a touch from the broken-down crumpled-ear fraternity who made their way to his office, the little kids who got their first tickets to the fights from him, or the hockey tickets he wangled for juniors on the staff.
It was at the office parties that we saw Dave at his happiest best. His delight in office get-togethers was so real, he crackled and fizzed and shot off sparks like a long-lived firecracker. The Dryburgh grin in the face getting pinker—this was something to see. So was Dave a the piano, singing with more goodwill than tonal excellence. Liking a good time so much himself, he couldn’t resist seeing to it that others were having fun too.
Mercurial, bombastic…and tender…good-natured, big hearted…these are all the things we will say about Dave. He was good for us around here and we will talk about him often. “He was a good guy” we will say. Better than that we cannot say because each of us, in the greatest sincerity will mean it. “
This excerpt causes me to think of how much I miss him. How can I miss him? I never knew him. But I do so miss him. I ache for him. I profoundly weep when I write this. Where are you my Uncle Dave? I guess you are inside of me in a way. That perhaps is the huge sadness I carry with me every day – that some people see, can make no sense of in this laughing person and head for the hills. I do not blame them. I remember at one point howling, howling in agony. It was after the death of my mother. I was not howling for her at all as I never felt close to her. I later recognized that I was howling because I realized that I would NEVER have a mother – NEVER. This must be the same kind of thing with Uncle Dave. The grief that I will NEVER have him as my real dad. Never. Instead I have the “real thing”, a man a cousin describes as a man full of ‘mean energy’ . But I have Uncle Dave in my heart and in my soul.
At his point I get off my Coptic Street bed, walk to the bathroom and get some toilet paper to blow my nose. This is ridiculous I muse, it even if he didn’t drown he would be dead today. He was born in 1908, this is now 2016. I am horrible at math and have to think, he would be 108. Not likely to be around and about at that advanced age. Get over it, girlfriend.
From everything I have read about Uncle Dave it is clear that he did have a sense of humor. But mine is better Uncle Dave. I can write a better obituary and I have a better sense of humor. So there!
So what do I do with this musing on May 29, 2016? I send them off to my cousin Gail. There is going to be a gathering of the Dryburghs later that day in Vancouver and I order her to read this to all assembled. I tell her that she does not have to read the crazy parts but she does have to read the part about what Uncle Dave was like at a party because it is so apt. There they are having a party which they would not have if it were not for him. I am sure the logic of this escapes you at this moment and without more information but here goes. If he were not born, if he did not defy all odds and become a favorite sports writer, if he did not inspire me to write a biography of him, if I did not form the Niece’s Nexus then they would not know one another and be gathering in Vancouver to see one another and then, little did I know at the time, have a birthday party to celebrate my birthday which is so absolutely cool. So see, Uncle Dave lives!
My precious relatives did have a party commemorating me with my favorite food and drink and preparing a cake for me. It is pictured. The reason it says: Suck It Up Alexis is as follows. I would email my female cousins complaining that I was doing all of the work in resurrecting this man and they were doing nothing. My Australian cousin emailed: Suck It Up Alexis and that became the mantra of all of them, even my eighty year old cousin Janet. As Rodney Dangerfield so eloquently stated: “I don’t get any respect!”
Yesterday I finally managed to get the book (as it is) in printed form. Lynne, my high school friend is going to proof read it and needs it in printed form. I had put the book aside for about a year. So it was a surprise for me to see it, to read it, to digest it. I somewhat laughingly say: “Who wrote this? It is so good!” So the day will involve more reading and then my cousin Carol-Ann is coming to visit me in my castle, now known as the Trump International Hotel. I am thinking it should be renamed The Alexis Castle and Tower, Vancouver. It does have a certain ring to it.
A picture of the gorgeous cake follows.