Day 060-064 – Melbourne, FL – Memorial Service

The past couple of days leading up to my Uncle’s memorial service have been a blur of planning and dealing with immediate concerns.

The silver lining of his passing has been chance to see a lot more family.

On Tuesday my Aunt Irene came down and surprised my Aunt Helen. She was also here a few weeks ago to help out so it was great she was able to come down again.

My cousins Peter (oldest), Joe (next oldest) came down with their respective families also on Tuesday. I haven’t seen either of them since Lynn’s wedding thirteen years ago – my how time flies.

I’m a little frustrated with myself because I didn’t stop by to see Peter on my ride down here – I passed within a few miles of his house, but just wasn’t thinking about it. I actually didn’t know I was that close, but did know he was somewhere near Philadelphia.

My cousin Paul (youngest of the boy cousins) came with his wife on Thursday along with my Dad’s cousins Joe (I said earlier there were a lot of them) and Len and his wife Ginger.

The house was bursting with love and family leading up to the Memorial service on Saturday morning.

I didn’t bring any formal clothes so my Aunt Helen gave me a grey shirt and a black tie from my Uncle that I wore along with my dress black bike shorts. I looked like Angus Young from AC/DC, but no one seemed to mind.

Peter gave the first speech (pic) and it was spot on. His humor is generous and engaging and his words captured the anxiety familiar to anyone that fears the passing of their father, but also the strength that comes from understanding that life goes. There were many touching speeches and memories shared throughout the service in addition to a photo montage put together by a friend of Lynn’s from photos we all helped select. The process of selecting the pictures together led to many stories I hadn’t heard.

In true Italian style the service was followed by a lot of food and more stories before we went back to the house and continued visiting with one another.

By Sunday afternoon everyone had gone, but Len, Ginger and me.

This has been the most I’ve ever gotten to talk to Len and Ginger and it was a lot of fun. Len is the son of my grandmother’s sister so he is my dad’s cousin and my second cousin. He spent the beginning of his career designing computer systems (hardware) for the defense department before becoming the CEO of a defense contractor. It was interesting to hear about working on a technology advisory committee with Presidents Bush and the sidelining of their technology initiative due to the attack on 9-11. He said that Bush was much smarter than his portrayal in the media.

He was also telling me about core memory, which was used after vacuum tubes and before the microscopic transistors used in today’s computers. Core memory worked by encoding binary digits (1 or 0) as either clockwise or counterclockwise magnetic fields in small rings of magnetic material. Huge racks of these metal rings would fill a room to provide a computer with the required memory capacity.

Finally, Len was telling me about a fun sounding summer project he has been doing with his grandkids for the past couple of years – stop action Lego movies! Each of them write up a script and once he gives the green light they go into production with a web camera, moving their lego actors around while snapping the requisite number of pictures to get the action down just right. Grandma Ginger helps with scene painting and the videos are edited together, voiced and given an exciting sound track to finish them off. I look forward to seeing one of the DVDs someday or maybe they can be uploaded to YouTube or something!?