I awoke this morning and, checking my Facebook, learned that my Uncle Paul Jennings Wells, of Wirtz, Va., had passed away due to illness, early on the morning of May 29, a few weeks after his 81st birthday.
He was the 2nd child, and oldest son, of the 2nd marriage (to William Wells) of a woman born Iva Daugherty of Owensboro, Ky.
Navy vet, thrice hitched, twice un-hitched, the father of 7 kids (5 of them girls) and the human companion to many cats, dogs and birds over a lifetime, he lived in Ky., Ca., Va. and elsewhere, working many different jobs, including many proud years at Lanterman Hospital for the Developmentally Disabled, in Pomona, Ca.
He was a complex man, no denying that; A man of faith, with a peculiar, sometimes off-color, sense of humor and was a creative storyteller, with a deep singing voice that was awesome, among other attributes good and not so good. When I say complex the fact he spent the last years of his life living close to and re-connecting with, the children of his first 2 marriages barely scratches the surface.
Most of my memories of him and the effect he had on my family growing up come from the period beginning with his 3rd, and longest, marriage, to my Aunt Eileen, as they settled down in southern California.
Middle age and my aunt, tamed him at last, hee, hee!
He was there for his mom, my maternal grandmother, in her last years, and a support to my mother, his older sister, as well.
He was an avid reader and lover of films, as well as a lover of cats and dogs, with his wife rescuing, adopting and raising many, for decades.
Like his mom and younger brother, Bill (also with the same sense of humor), he was a teller of family stories, and a teller of funny stories, too. He was also a bit of a poet.
I wish I'd had the brains to record them, but I didn't.
He was someone I could talk to, even if I had to make very long bus trips from my home, first in Pomoma, then in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana, to his in Fontana to do so.
He helped me understand my mother and her ways; how the way she was raised influenced her personal life decisions, her relationship with my father, and how she raised my sisters and, most importantly me, alone and how my relationship with her shaped who I am.
He was among those who encouraged me to come out of my own personal shell in so many ways; when I got a computer and went online, beginning to socialize online and in person in new ways, when I chose to leave my first job after 17 years, when I took my first solo weekend trips, to a wedding in Phoenix and a gathering in Chicago, and when I became a blogger and began to write my own stories and poems.
In his own way he even encouraged my genealogical research...up to a point, hee, hee!
He even tried using a computer, himself, for a time.
It was because of him that, after my visit to Va., where I reconnected with my cousins and Aunt Nina (wife 1) in 2008, I spent the rest of my vacation alone in Washington DC.
That trip later helped convince me I had it in me to take another solo trip, this time to Blog Paws.
I regret not having talked with him the last few years, but I will always be grateful to him, love him and miss him.
I was told that one of the last things he did was ask for his glasses...
Who can say what he was thinking when he did so?
Whether he had them on at that last moment, or not, knowing him and his sense of humor, though, I can venture a guess.
Maybe he wanted to see clearly what was coming next...
As for what came next...here's one theory:
From my cat blog - Daddy Kiril's Uncle Has Reunion at Rainbow Bridge
Photo 1 is from 2011.
Photo 2 is from 2008, when I visited my relatives in Va. and shows me with Uncle Paul and his 3rd wife, my Aunt Eileen.