Yesterday I drove to the lake shore town of Port Washington Wisconsin. Home of the Fazios. This had been one of the places my family and I went to as kids to visit Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Joe. Now these two family's have gone there separate ways as the kids (4 in our family 8 in the Fazios) found their paths in life.
To try and blog about My dad and Uncle Joe is near impossible there is just not enough space in the Internet for story's that have become legend, My dad never really had a close relationship with his brother George. I think he tried but as some brothers , and as some friends part ways over their life Dad and George just were two very different people. Dad was always good on his word, and you couldn't find a harder worker anywhere. George he was just kinda along for the ride. (nothing wrong with that either). But to be close to big Ray you needed to earn your way to his soul, hard word, and payback on your word was a necessity.
My Mom ,and what I would call her closest sister, aunt Lorraine is How my dad and Joe met. funny how when you're a kid you don't know how things work, My Uncle Joe was just always part of the family landscape. You go to weddings birthday party's, camping, fishing, and there just family. always around. Well as time goes on you drift from the kids, That's cuz we have to grow, we find our way. We move on but we always keep the memories. Sure we stay close to our brother and sisters, and we form the next Fazios and Stejskals. But when your in Illinois and there in Wisconsin you cant help but drift apart. Its the way of the world.
The friendship and legend of my dad and uncle Joe is just nuts, My Dad and Joe would hunt, Fish and they would drink like no two men I would ever meet in my life. They got in fights (not with each other) and my Dad would get his ass kicked while Joe an Italian bad ass right down to the core could whip three guys at a time. they at times worked together, And my two favorite storeys of all.....The one where Dad and Joe got so mad at each other that they actually grabbed their hunting rifles and were going to duel like two cowboys. (keep in mind this is a long time ago the late 50's maybe early 60's) Mom and aunt Lorr always joke they should have let them shoot each other.
The other is when they were going to a bachelor party and driving down 31st street in Brookfield at a high rate of speed, It was a little late at night and Joe didn't feel the need to stop at the stop signs. They were supposed to be home by midnight, Or I should say that was their curfew. Well according to some accounts it was around 4a.m. .As they blowing through stop signs my dad (I'm sure as clam as he always is), says to Joe "you gonna stop at any of these stop signs?" The reply: "what the hell for we can stop tomorrow".
Through the years the boys grew up, Both went to AA and both quit drinking. Over the past few years I would always see Joe and Lorraine at mom and dads place in Northern Wisconsin. Funny how we would just sit and talk, I love a good story and a story teller. I think its part of how guy like me can make a living though something as silly as a speaker. My dad and Joe tell/told great story's. but as I look back now they were story's of a bond. A love. A friendship born out of two guys who hooked up with two girls. How cool is that?
The end result in these two men, is what they will leave or have left behind, two family's with many kids, grand kids and great grand kids. The way they grew to be there for their kids every need, at any time. and doing it when they had no or Little money.Both self made, hard working men. two guys cut from a moment in time when your worked, and failure wasn't an option. the end result is an American success story.
As I walked up to pay my respects to Joe, I tried my best to not try be too emotional. It had been a week since he passed, and I didn't want to do that to Nancy, Lorrie, Dawn,Cindy, Jenny, Joe Jr, Billy, Or Micheal. But here was a guy who never in my life said a bad word to me, and trust me in the scope of the bigger family picture, I was kind of an outlaw. (The family part that resides around Chicago? some think that I was a little to wild back in the day and they had some opinions as to how they felt) Not Joe he was just Joe and I think that's why my dad and him were such great buds.
As I said my goodbyes I couldn't hold it in. And its not that BS that we think of our own mortality crap. It was because I was thinking of my Dad. Big Ray didn't make the funeral due to the fact that he was is in Florida with my mom. They had stopped to see Joe just about a week before he passed. He was glad he did. I think he said his goodbyes there. I think the boys knew.....
It was at that point that I knew that as I was saying goodbye to Joe a big piece of my Dad was there with him. and when they closed the coffin we said goodbye to a little bit of both of them.
See you on the other side Uncle Joe.