My eldest uncle passed away. I was saying today to wangch61 that if there was any way for me to get out of going to Buffalo, I would. This is not what i meant.
This is my dad's oldest brother. My dad is having a really hard time right now. I'm
Some of you who know me well know the significance of this man in my life. My name, which I am often annoyed by, despite its fitting epitome and the constraints it power puts on me, is a legacy of my father's family - Barney and I are both named as my dad's father was named, as all of the eldest males of each generation have been named for centuries.
Barney (as he was called by his mother, brothers, and sister, to differentiate him from their father) bought me my first air rifle. He taught me how to make DOS menus using batch files. He bought me my first bottle of scotch, and taught me how to bluff in poker. He taught me how to cheat at computer chess. It was in his apartment that i first saw "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" while he was upstairs canoodling with his then-girlfriend, back when my grandfather was dying of cancer he wasn't being treated for yet.
I just recently finished cataloging all my books on librarything after my move. Several of my favorite reads were birthday or Christmas presents from him - I was reading inscriptions as I searched for ISBN's on old books.
Barney was a war veteran. He went to Vietnam, and it chewed him up and spit him out. It took two of his fingers, as well as a chunk of his ass, and left him with shrapnel he would forever joke about. He got the purple heart trying to save a bunch of other radio guys from a grenade. Everything changed for him due to that war. The dope and the bottle were his fight to the end, and he married them both overseas (though he had been flirting with the bottle all his life, like all us good sons of Cormick). He smoked until the day he died, and was the first person I ever saw blow smoke rings. Barney always wore sunglasses, even at night, and that song I love so much always makes me think of him. It is hard to say on any given day if he truly won or lost at life, long after the same was true of Vietnam.
Of all the things this man has meant to me and showed me, Barney taught me the power of having your own company, and the dangers of intellectual property. He taught me how easy it was to make a buck of someone else's work, and what the value of a contract was. He taught me that the quality of workmanship is directly proportional to the quality of client in the eyes of a shark, and that you can live highest on the hog when you are screwing the most people. His morality, as it was, has always been questioned by my family, but quietly, never directly. I would not be the man I am writing this, were it not for his instruction (both good and bad).
Back when I was in college, a budding insomniac programmer, I had an opportunity to enter into a lucrative trade, working for unquestionably evil people. Barney did what he thought was right, and blocked my path to ascension. He was how I had made the initial contact with my prospective employers. I have always bemoaned his actions - my life would be a world away by now, had he not done that. I've always looked at the rosy outcome of that scenario. In all probability, I'd be dead by now if he hadn't stepped in, or in prison at the least. I think he knew that somehow. In those actions, my uncle was never more my godfather. I wish I had forgiven him for that.
Barney looked out for me at a time when nobody else was looking out for me. now he's gone. I wish I knew what was going to happen next.