I think if I did my math correctly today would have been my Uncle Hank's 54th birthday. It's been 18yrs since he's been gone, and sometimes its hard to keep track of everyone's exact age in a large family. But this is one birthday that's easy to remember. My Uncle Hank was a special person in my life. My parents are the oldest and second oldest siblings in their families, so I have not only one, but two uncles that weren't gobs older than I was, Uncle Hank was 14 when I was born and Steve (he doesn't even get called uncle, sorry Steve) were sort of my big brothers.
My Uncle Hank was my dad's youngest sibling and only brother. While he loves his sisters, he and Uncle Hank were very close, so through that relationship, we were all pretty close. Now Dad and Uncle Hank liked hunting together and fishing and about all things outdoors. The love Uncle Hank and I shared was softball. I always looked forward to getting together with him and Aunt K and their boys as they came along, because chances are, a softball game would errupt. While it might be as basic as 'batting practice' which he was always great at helping me per-fect my stance or whatever issue I was having as I evolved as kid in the game. Or it might be an Angle Family Reunion most of which in my growing up years were held at Wilson Park in Granite City IL. There you can be 100% sure a baseball game would happen. Some of my happiest memories of childhood are of softball games and Uncle Hank was there.
Uncle Hank loved sports of every kind. He and Dad would always have to discuss the Missouri Illinois border wars game. They enjoyed MU football games, we all went to several St. Louis Cardinals games when I was a kid, back when you could carry in your picnic basket and cooler. He loved hockey, wrestling, and even played a little golf. Once his boys were born and got old enough to start playing sports, he added soccer to his long list of sports that he loved. I am not sure that there was ever a sport he didn't try if given the opportunity.
We lost him entirely too soon. He passed February of 93 at the age of 35 yrs old. He was playing a hockey game at the time. Loved his sports right up to the end. I think of him when I play ball with my kids. I think of him EVERY time I watch, Field of Dreams, another thing we both loved, that movie. I think of him (and Grandma Angle as well) when I listen to StL Cardinal baseball on the radio. I think of him when Missouri and Illinois play each other. And many other times. When you lose someone you love, normal is never the same, a good friend told me that and she was so right.
His family has progressed through this life in so many ways that he would be proud of I am sure. I think of 7 yrs ago today, when we all found out he would have been a grandpa, to the Angle Tripletts. I remember thinking at the time how Chris and Amy tried so hard to have a family and of all days to find out for sure, they did on his birthday and he sent them triple the blessings. Happy Birthday Uncle Hank, I know you are playing ball or fishing up there, the weather is perfect and someday we will play together again.
This is the Day the Lord has made, let us Rejoice and be Glad in it,