Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Rand J. McNally

I decided that I would give some of the daily prompts from Geneabloggers a try.  I like collecting tombstone photographs, so Tombstone Tuesday seemed to be a natural fit.

Rand McNally was my uncle, a few years younger than my father.  Not a direct ancestor, but a branch on my tree and one that I knew when I was a child.  When he got out of the Army, after serving in Vietnam, he came to live with us for a while.  I think he slept on the living room couch.  I would have only been four or five years old at the time, maybe six, so I don't have many linear memories, rather, sporadic images without much in the way of context or sequence.  I remember having a lot of fun when he came - he bought water guns and he, my sister, and I battled out in the yard.  After a month or two, I think, he headed out to Iowa where my grandfather and a few of my aunts lived and opened a radiator repair shop

I got to see him at least one more time before he died, on a family trip to Iowa a few years later.  He and my dad competed in a demoltion derby at a county fair (which I did not get to see because I got sick on that trip), but that was only for a week or so.

After that, the next time I saw him was at his funeral. On the evening of September 28, 1978, Rand fell asleep in the trailer he lived in while smoking a cigarette, and died in the fire that followed, a horrible, horrible, senseless way to die.  His is the first funeral I remember attending.  I remember looking at his body in the coffin and not really fully accepting what was going on - I was eight years old at the time.  Funerals are tough at that age, the normal eight year old urge to run wild like a barbarian is strong and difficult to restrain, even when the mood suggests it would be a bad idea.  So I mostly sat there very quiet and more than a little sad.  He is buried at the cemetery at the Albright Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania.

Rand never got to meet my brothers, one was a year old and the other not yet born when he died.  He never married, never had children of his own.

A life too short.  We miss you.  Rest in peace.

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