My Uncled Don died suddenly this weekend.
He was not my Uncle by blood. Anyone can be an uncle by blood. Perhaps more meaningful, he was my Uncle by bond. My father met Don Fonda when they were in seminary in 1965. My dad was an only child and I surmise he often wished he had a sibling. He and Uncle Don shared a lot together over the last 40 plus years.
Don Fonda was kind, very loud, and had a smile as wide as the open arms he would greet me with. He loved all genres of music (the guy liked Jethro Tull), once dangled his son by his feet down an outhouse pit to retrieve an air freshener we threw in, loved to laugh, cared about people, and made the most of his gifts and talents in his lifetime. The Uncle Don I remember growing up loved the Pink Panther movies, drove a green Dodge Aspen station wagon, had curly hair and a beard, wore nice clothes (thick corduroy pants), and always was 'hip' and 'cool' - but never thought of himself that way. His mannerisms reminded me of the actor, Gene Wilder.
The Uncle Don I knew as an adult was very much the same. I felt like he was one of my biggest supporters as he often told me I was doing a great job with the kids. He drove a Toyota Prius, loved his family, and was still 'hip' and 'cool' - and still never thought of himself that way. Uncle Don remembered every birthday in this house and always sent cards wishing us love. He helped perform our wedding ceremony and once came to a hockey game of Danny's and cheered so loud you could hear his booming voice above all others. I like to remember the day we were Uncle Don and Aunt Jeanne's guests at Canobie Lake Park. He refused to let me pay for our tickets and told me we were family and that he was paying for family. Uncle Don was always fun to be around, saw goodness in everyone, and made things seem better when you were with him.
I am sad for my father and mother. I am sad for Aunt Jeanne, Debbie, Douw, and their families. Over my 40 years Uncle Don was a constant that I probably took for granted. Now he's gone, and like so many others, I will miss him.