Everyone needs an Uncle Tony. I do not believe it was possible to find a person who had an unkind word to say about him. There was so much love packed into his small frame. I can’t imagine him without a smile on his face, which says a lot for a man with eight children. I was lucky to not only have had him as my uncle but my godfather as well.
As you know, my grandmother lived in the house adjacent to ours, but as time went on, it became more and more difficult for her to afford to live on her own. Uncle Tony and my grandma decided to look for a house large enough for the ten of them and her, which was very generous since she was the mother-in-law. But he was the kind of man who would never say no to her.
On Sundays, he would go to the local bakery to pick up buns for the family—crumb buns, jelly donuts and cream-filled pastries were among my favorites. As part of their extended family, we always received a delivery.
He was a hard-worker. Their first house had a basement under only part of the house. I remember seeing Uncle Tony and some of the other men of the family digging it out by hand. That room was converted into a bedroom for the four boys, furnished with two sets of bunk beds.
No one could repair the body damage to a car like him, except maybe Billy, who inherited that skill and attention to detail from his dad. Anyone who had their car repaired by either knew it would be returned better than new. They were both that good.
Uncle Tony loved to bowl, but Aunt Marian did not–neither did Grandpa. So when Uncle Tony asked Grandma to be his partner on a weekly bowling team, she couldn’t refuse. Grandma bowled about as well as I play golf, but she continued playing because she enjoyed the camaraderie of the sport and her partner. She told me about the time he leaned over and whispered in her ear, and when someone jokingly asked if he was whispering sweet nothings to her, Grandma said, “No, he said I’m a lousy player!” He was funny in a subtle way like that.
When I was pondering about what to write about today, a song came on the radio. It was Queen—You’re My Best friend. Everyone knows that Queen was Billy’s band, but I remember going to Uncle Tony’s 80th birthday party and seeing all his kids getting up to dance to that song with him. That says it all. On television everyone loved Raymond, but in my town, everyone loved Uncle Tony.