Thursday, April 3, 2014

God Bless My Uncle Gene

Yesterday morning, my father called a call from his sister-in-law, Cheryl Edstrom to tell him the very sad news that my uncle Gene, my dad's youngest brother, lost his battle with cancer.

Gene was loved by all and had a fantastic sense of humor.  My mother told us a story last night that I had ever heard before.  When my grandmother told her sons, my father John and his brother Luverne, thye had a brother, she asked them what they should name the fourth son.  Merle, the other brother, apparently was not there at the time.  What was there response?  "How about Roy Rogers or Gene Autry?"   Dorothy and Kenneth Edstrom (their parents) decided on Gene Arthur.

I am closest to Gene's oldest son, Chris, who is a true American hero.  Chris has been in Iraq two times and Afghanistan two times as well.

When I was very young, Gene used to kid me about the Air Force because he was in the Army.  He used to say stuff like, "you know David, the Army planes and pilots are much better than the Air Force pilots."  My father was both a pilot and later an air traffic controller, so that naturally got me going as a little kid.

My memories of Gene go back to the family farm in Randolph, Minnesota where Gene gave me some rides on his snowmobile.  I also remember when Gene came down to visit us in Trenton, Illinois.  He came down in a brand new Oldsmobile 442 that was a very, very cool car.  My sister, father and I played catch every day and Gene left his glove back in Minnesota.  I remember he just went out and bought a new glove.  I remember thinking, "wow, he can buy a brand new car and just buys a new glove whenever he needs one!"

When I turned 18, I happened to be back in Minnesota during that time - 1977.  My uncle Gene, Uncle Luverne and Uncle Merle decided to take the oldest grandson of Kenneth and Dorothy Edstrom to the local bar in Randolph, Minnesota.  Randolph is small.  How small is it? Today it is 436 people.  That probably includes the nearby farms as well.   They take me to the only bar in Randolph and announce it is my 18th birthday.  It is 3pm on a Saturday and it is twenty five cents a beer.  A couple of local farmers buy me a beer.  When I find out that beers are only a quarter, I then buy two beers for every farmer there and my three uncles.  Needless to say, I got hammered.  I remember Gene keeping me upright as the road in Randolph was spinning towards me.  Gene used to always kid me about that day.

Unfortunately, my parents cannot go back as my father is still undergoing chemotherapy and the latest IVIG did not give him the energy he needs to travel and my mom is still recovering from her stroke as well.  I have great, great memories of Gene Edstrom. 

Here is the official obituary.

My god bless his soul and provide comfort to all those family and friends who he touched....

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