Monday, June 1, 2015

Uncle Budge

My mom's younger brother, my beloved Uncle Budgie, died on Monday. At the podiatrist's office. Just sat down and that was it.

Mom and Budgie
My brother and sister-in-law just saw him last week while they were down in Flah-rida finishing up stuff for our folks. My bro commented on how well he seemed to be doing after a few setbacks earlier in the year. 

My Uncle Dave (z"l) and my Mom adored their baby brother. When their father died in 1936, before Budgie's bar mitzvah, his siblings circled the wagons around him, making sure that he would be okay and he would be able to go on to college. He was their darling baby brother.

Mom and Budge
Grandma Bessie and
her boys, Budgie and Davy
Uncle Budge was a remarkable kinda guy. He was a tail-gunner in the US Army Air Corps during WWII, was wounded while in his turret, and had great shrapnel scars in his leg. My guys admired him as a great war hero. He had a Purple Heart and everything. 

I thought Uncle Budgie was magic. He taught me how to look for the little holes in the sand, and then beneath those, there would be live clams. Not that I would eat them...but I believed there must be a useful skill in knowing how to find them. 

Uncle Budge was a labor lawyer. He believed ethics and morals were the principal assets of a good society, and that without them, we were less than human in our being. He lived up to that standard and set an example for the rest of us. Big time. He was tough to ignore on that stuff. 

Uncle Budge was the most laid back person I've ever known. Whatever it was, we would deal with it. If it happened, it happened for a reason, whatever "it" was, and we would deal with it. I think he was the philosophical inventor of "Whatever." Unk always saw the good in things. 

On his 60th birthday, the first one after Uncle Dave died, he was sitting in his office thinking about how his brother wasn't going to call him to wish him "happy birthday." The phone rang, and it was my Dad, telling him that David had just been born in Minnesota. A birthday twin named Dave. Uncle told me he thought it was a great big happy birthday from his big brother. I thought it was magic. Just like Uncle Budgie.

Aunty G and Unk made a great, adventurous pair. She organized, he went. She arranged, he beamed. She was the best other half for him. As she wrote earlier today: "I lost the love of my life." They were a couple you couldn't explain....but had to admire. They complemented and completed each other. Their kids, my cousins Ellis and Perdie, knew it. Their spouses, Tracey and Avishay, knew it. Their grandkids, Emma, Abie, and Jacob, knew it. And the rest of us knew it, too. 
Aunty G and Uncle Budge
with kids and grandkids

Uncle Budge, Aunty G and my folks lived in the same condo community. This was a big deal. Mom was in heaven the day they moved in. But when it was time to say goodbye on the day of the Big Move to Minnesota, they were painfully aware that they might not see each other again. No one thought this was an imminent possibility.

So, here's the really hard thing: Mom is 92, Dad is 94, Uncle Budge just celebrated his 90th last January, and Aunty G, still in her 80s, brings up the rear. We have been exceptionally lucky to have them all, as well as my dad's baby sister down the road a piece, Aunt Cynthia. The time we have with them is precious and counted moment to moment. I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with all of them....growing up in our looney, close-knit family. I am grateful for all the cockamamie memories: Aunty Gladknit and the knitting machine, Uncle Budge and the dogs and the clam scouting adventures. I am grateful for the chance I had to get to know them as adults. There were good conversations, great discussions, and lots and lots of love thrown into the mix. We have to be grateful, thankful, and grateful some more for all the moments we were given.

I am....We very lucky to have had Uncle Budge. Everyone should have a totally ethical person with whom to hang around. There is no substitute for the experience.

And there is no substitute for Uncle Budge. 
Herbert A. Simon, Esq.
January 3, 1925 ~ June 1, 2015

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים 

May we all find comfort in this place, amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem


  1. I really loved my Uncle... and will always remember him as the guy who got me my 1st real summer job -- as a clerk at Emery Air Freight. Had to join the Teamsters & I still proudly possess my union card.

    Thanks for the beautiful piece, WP. May Budgie rest in peace.

    Your Brother

  2. My heart goes out to you and your family .. give your mom an extra hug from me

  3. Sorry if duplicate

    I'm sorry but the story brought a smile to my face, about a month ago I was spending the day with my brother who's now 74. We always seem to enjoy ourselves whenever we're together, no matter what we're doing, as it happened that day he had a podiatrist appointment. So I went into the waiting room with him, and sitting there I had the thought that I too needed a trim job. So I asked the receptionist if the Doctor had time for me, and they gladly accommodated me. Who else but two aging (not old) Jewish brothers, would even consider this? Happy to say all went well, and we promptly had a great lunch immediately following the procedure. We ALWAYS eat well when we're together.

    I too had a favorite uncle, named my son after him, he passed from cancer many years ago at a relatively young age. But those memories will always be good, and having an opportunity to add to those memories with my brother is a very special thing.

    My sympathies to you and your family


    June 18, 2015 at 5:26 PM