Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Uncle Kenneth Lively 1925-2009

My Dear Uncle Ken passed away a few months ago. He was a faithful husband, a father, a loving brother to my wonderful mother, a grandfather, a friend to many, hilarious beyond words and one of the smartest people I've ever known. He was also a World War II gunner...his memory was a steel trap and his life as a journalist was his tool to eloquently recall every detail of his life in Europe sixty years ago.

His wife, Jan and daughter, Phyllis organized a tree planting ceremony in his honor last month on a bright, chilly spring day in Austin. As we listened to the young man in charge of such things on the campus, talk about the Live Oak that was about to be put into the ground, my father stood up to tell the crowd of about fifty people, a story. As life and luck would have it, the hill where the tree was planted was the exact hill that my Dad used to play as a kid. His grandfather's house was on this grand hill under the shadow of Memorial Stadium, home of the Texas Longhorns, and where the LBJ library now stands. It was a big beautiful colonial with bluebonnets in the front yard. The hill where my Uncle's ashes now rest, and a new tree was planted to join its hundred year old ancestors, was the same hill my father ran on, rolled down and loved as a young boy. Sometimes life is just too much! My friends and I call moments like these Quarks. Those moments when coincidence isn't an explanation, and luck isn't an answer and life just happens in a beautiful series of moments that make you gasp.

I regret that I didn't spend more time with my Uncle. That I didn't know him better. But, I am grateful that in the last few years of his life we found a common bond. He was a great writer, and I learned a lot from him, even if he didn't know it. He supported me in huge ways. He came to my book party in Dallas last March when he didn't feel well, when the brain tumor that would ultimately take his life was growing silently. He walked to the Barnes and Noble near his home to buy copies of my book the day it came out. He would say to me, "kid, so many people want to be published, and you did it. You got published."

We bonded over Obama, chocolate cake and God.

He was a treasure. He will be very missed.

Note to Self: Don't let a lifetime go by before you realize the hidden treasures of family.