Friday, May 20, 2005

Remembering a Big Chum

A close family friend, Augie, passed away yesterday. My memories of Augie date back to 1976 when my family moved to San Jose. At the time, Augie and his wife Margaret were next-door neighbors and best friends with my Aunt Nicky (my mom's older sister) and her husband Uncle Sebas.

When Uncle Sebas passed away in 1978, my Aunt Nicky went to live with Margaret and Augie. She still lives in that house to this very day. So every time I've visited my aunt in the last 27 years, I've also visited Augie and Margaret.

I couldn't find any pictures of Augie, but I did find some of the cards that Margaret and Augie had given me over the years. (05/23/05)

Augie was a character! A good way to describe him would be a retired Teamster (although I don't know for certain if he was ever a Teamster). But you know the type. A man that has worked hard all his life and expects no less of anyone else.

Like Archie Bunker in All in the Family, he was one of those lovable curmudgeons that would always have some complaint or opinion about something or another. Yet the mood was always light, and you knew to take his comments with a grain of salt.

Despite his sometimes brusque demeanor, he has his soft spots. He loved dogs. And he has always welcomed our family into his home. Every time.

He also had a great sense of humor, even if it was a little ... bawdy. I particularly remember a period of time when my older brother had a girlfriend who was well gifted in the chest, shall we say. Needless to say Augie always had a couple of things to say on that topic. :)

I used to always get a kick out of the personalized license plate on his light blue Pinto. It said "BIG CHUM," which was also his CB radio handle (back when CB radio was the craze). Parked next to it was his wife Margaret's van with the license plate "LIL CHUM."

Another vivid memory was his membership in the Loyal Order of Moose, or "the Moose Lodge" as it was more commonly known. I guess it's kind of like the Elks, the Foreign Legion, or the Knights of Columbus. You know, those fraternal organizations made up of primarily senior citizens who are always organizing big dinners. Many times he would come back from those events with some sort of award.

In recent years, he's had some health issues and some symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease. Yet when I saw him last February, he knew exactly who I was. His body was frail, but his mind was still active the best to my knowledge.

In fact while I was chatting it up with Margaret and my aunt, Augie would interject a few comments here or there. At first glance his comments seemed disconnected from the conversation, but Tim — always the analytical one — could figure out exactly how his comments connected to the conversation. You just had to think about it a little more creatively.

Well here's to you, Big Chum. We'll miss ya!

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