My Uncle Charles passed away last week Sunday from an asthma attack brought on by the severe heat that day. He was 73.
First I want to thank the Veteran's Administration. They were wonderful from the moment my Uncle came in to the hospital in severe distress. They treated my Aunt Mary (his widow) and my father (his brother) and the rest of the family immediately afterward with respect, concern and gentle support. They explained everything both immediately and when asked if some decisions could wait by my Aunt, the nurse gently grabbed her hand and said, "Sure, you call us tomorrow when you are ready."
The week was full of arrangements many family members came from all around the country, and it was wonderful to see so many people I truly love, but under such mourning, these things are always difficult. I love my family so deeply. The women are strong, smart, fun, leaders, faithful, and role models for how I hope my three daughters will live their lives. The men are handsome, smart, strong black men who all stand out as men of faith and committment to their families and to making this a better world. It never ceases to amaze me how many are politically active, and have a strong belief that the only way to improve the world is to work on it personally, and it's no wonder that I'm so politically active and concerned about the world around me. It seems to be genetic. I really am proud to be a member of the Shavers clan from Key West, FL. It's a badge of honor.
The VA buried my Uncle with full military honors. Now, I know this sounds weird, but the service was cool. Yes, I said, cool. A sunny warm day, a nine gun salute, a real soldier playing taps perfectly, a beautiful new cemetary in Union Grove, a real flag folding ceremony and full respect paid at all times to my Uncle for his service. The Veteran's Administration is a class act and the cuts to the VA are unconscionable.
I want to quickly tell you about my Uncle Charles. He was born in 1933 in Key West, FL. He had one sister and four brothers. They were raised in a different time and place in this country. The island was still and island and although they had to catch it or pick it themselves, they were never hungry. Our family was one of the original settlers on Key West in the early 19th century and to this day most of the streets are named after our kin and we still own two old conch homes in old town that my cousins are still raising families in today. My uncle left the island as a young man and joined the airforce during the Korean War. He served honorably for 12 1/2 years and helped protect Japan during its reconstruction. He spoke fluent Japanese. He lived with my family on the east side of Milwaukee when I was a child and got a degree from Waukesha Technical College in the 1970's. He met his beloved wife Mary here in Milwaukee and never glanced at another woman to the day he passed. He was the historian of the family and had helped to raise and protect literally numerous generations of conch children when he moved back to Key West in the early 1970's. Uncle Charles lived there helping to raise all the cousins to have dignity and respect for themselves and each other for decades. He and Mary moved back to Milwaukee about 10 years ago. Their love for community lives on in his Milwaukee neighbors who stood up at his funeral to tell us all that their lives and their children's are better for his influence on them. I suspect we'll never know how many people are strong adults because their lives were touched by my Uncle Charles. Strong funny loving and wonderful.
He has three children: Rhonda, Cheryl and Charles, Jr. They will all miss him dearly.
He was an amazing man that the world will miss. I love you Uncle Charles! Renee