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We all have that one eccentric relative who always says and does the strangest things. In your family, who’s that person, and what is it that earned him/her that reputation?

Uncle Ernie is not strange, or eccentric really, but he has a way about him that makes him stand out at any family occasion he attends — in a good way. He is unabashedly a Minnesotan farmer. He hasn’t actually farmed in 30 years, moving to the University of Minnesota as a facilities manager. He retired from that position many years ago. He and his wife are in their 80’s now, and he, especially, is always the life of the party, with a ready full-out laugh, and some good stories and recollections.

He is a person who loves people. He is effusive in expressing how great it is to see everyone, and joyful in reconnecting with people, catching up on their lives, and meeting new great-nieces and nephews. He’s my father’s youngest brother, and one of only two siblings left on that side of the family.

Over the years he and his wife have attended every wedding (and there have been several) anywhere they have been held. He last drove to Florida for a wedding perhaps 5 years ago, but no longer will drive that far — I think that journey took quite a toll on him. His wife is very friendly, too, but more subdued, and I think she enjoys seeing him enjoy himself so much. When my brother-in-law was confined to bed and wheelchair with terminal cancer, they visited him twice during his last two-and-a-half years.

What a blessing to have someone in the family who is always a welcome guest, and so interested in and loving toward his relatives and their families. He has also been very active in tracing down branches of his family and even traveled to Alaska once to visit a last-namesake who was something like a second cousin. To him family is everything. I think he must feel badly that age and increasing health issue have slowed him down (and his wife) and they are unable to take off and join the family where ever they may be.

And at the last wedding, he and his wife were still the best dancers!