Growing up in Ohio we only had the opportunity to see Uncle Tom once or twice a year as kids. He always seemed like the exotic family member from the East when he’d return to Chillicothe for those visits. Even as a child I always appreciated his warmth, humor, and always sunny disposition. Seeing him with his little brothers Jim and Joe (my Dad) always made me happy and reminded me of my own brothers.
It wasn’t until I got older and went East myself to attend college in New York that I really got the chance to truly know Uncle Tom. Where he lived in Connecticut was only a short drive to West Point and during my four years there he made many visits to come see me specifically, or would stop to say hello enroute to New Jersey or other points south to visit friends or other family.
In fact as a lonely Plebe (freshman) at West Point his visits were many times just the friendly face of a loving family member that I needed to keep the home sickness away and keep me trudging along.
It was during those many visits and meals we spent together that I got to truly know what a great man he was. I reveled in the stories he told about my Grandma and Grandpa Krugie, the hillarious stories he would tell about my Dad (that we kids never had heard or only had heard from another perspective), and about his intersting life. He never seemed in a hurry to leave, was always happy to listen to what I had to say, would answer every question, and would always leave me with a loaf of Italian bread or some cookies.
I truly treasured those times together, and thank God that I had the chance to likely get to know him better than any of my other Ohio siblings or cousins. I was blessed and it makes me teary now to think about all those great times we had together and how much I miss him now and in the years since I left the East to start my own life.
In many ways I always saw us as a bit of kindred spirits. We left our home in Ohio to join the Army, we were exposed to and experienced many things we likely would not have seen had we not gone away, met our future spouses while there, and then continued our lives and raised families in places other than where we grew up. As we would joke sometimes it was like the Robert Frost poem where we “took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference”.
I wish my deepest heartfelt condolences to Tracy, Tammy, Thomas, Terry, and Tim. Your Dad was a special guy and touched the lives of other Krugs in ways that you’ll probably never fully appreciate.
Please don’t forget that you aren’t alone and you have a much bigger family out here, who despite not knowing you as well as we should, love and care about you very much.
Don’t be strangers in the months and years ahead. As Uncle Tom was always quick to remind me while I was going through my own tough times, “us Krugs need to stick together”.
Tuesday January 2, 2018 at 10:05 pm