Friday, April 22, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Uncle Clyne

Clyne Veal died today.  He was one of the most influential people in Rudy's life.

Clyne and Lorene

I began hearing about Clyne (and his sweet wife, Lorene) soon after Rudy and I started dating.  Rudy's family is quite large, but it became obvious that Clyne was a VIP in the family.  Over the years, he justified that high regard over and over.

The Veal clan - that's Clyne in the Navy uniform
I told you it was a large family!

Clyne was a humble man and lived simply.  He didn't have to.  He could have bought anything he wanted.  He was soft spoken. He had all sorts of things to brag about if he'd been that type of person, but that wasn't in his nature.  Thinking about those sentences, I can't help feeling they are inadequate.  The thing is, his nature is what was so admirable.  It's what made him so loved.  He didn't need to be loud and out-going.  He didn't need to bring attention to himself.  People were drawn to him. No one wanted to disappoint him.  They wanted to make him proud.  Interestingly, if someone did do something "disappointing", most often Clyne seemed to see it as a lesson.

Clyne was a World War II vet.  His war experiences were like something you might see in a movie.  He served on the USS Emmons.  The Emmons was attacked by five kamikaze planes and sunk in April of 1945.  Clyne was the second from the last to get off the ship.  He saved the captain's life.  The captain was in such bad shape (from burns I think) that for years Clyne assumed he hadn't lived.  But he did.  Clyne was interviewed by a number of newspapers for his 90th birthday.  You can see more about that HERE.  

Clyne in his USS Emmons hat

Rudy came up with the wonderful idea to give Clyne a cap with the USS Emmons emblem on it.  Of all the gift giving I've seen over the years, I do believe that was the all time best.  There was no doubt it was appreciated.  He hardly left home without it for the next 5 years.  Many times Lorene and Clyne would be out eating and a stranger would see that cap and secretly pay for their meal to thank him for his service.  I remember hearing about it the first time it happened.  They were so amazed and absolutely delighted!

Clyne liked keeping things simple.  He was Rudy's biggest mentor when it came to the simple life, though Rudy was never able to come even close to Clyne's simple style.  He was frugal and careful.  There was nothing fancy about Clyne Veal!

He gardened up until a few years ago.  Most of those years, he plowed using a mule.  A mule was far better than a tiller!  Clyne's mules and horses were always fun to see when visiting.  I imagine those mules were more than happy to do whatever Clyne wanted them to do.  Even Clyne's animals seemed to be enchanted with him.

One thing I always thought significant about Clyne's gardening was that he didn't believe in planting the summer crops till after Mother's Day.  Many people are in such a rush to plant.  Clyne wanted to be certain frost would not undo his work.  He was an incredibly patient man.  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Clyne was a hard and diligent worker.  For a number of years he raised chickens.  Lots and lots and LOTS of chickens.  His barn was huge.  Rudy and his brother Jimmy used to spend summers with Clyne and Lorene.  Rudy helped some with the chickens and was awed by how much work that involved.  He'd ask Clyne about how he could continue to work that hard day after day.  I don't know the exact answer, but the takeaway was that you just focused on what you were doing at the moment and you kept going.  Rudy said Clyne was never in a big hurry, but he was incredibly steady and long lasting.  The long lasting part is certainly true in more ways than one.  He lived to be 95.

A number of generations learned things from Clyne - including how to make whistles from a branch.

Staying with Lorene and Clyne was a memory Rudy treasured.  Other cousins in the family stayed with them, too.  The female cousins always wondered why the boys were so lucky.  The girls weren't left out actually.  They had fun at the same time with other aunts and uncles.  Clyne knew how to keep boys out of mischief and teach them a lot at the same time.

Rudy used to go hunting with Clyne.  They'd start the day quite early with a huge breakfast from Lorene.  Lorene's biscuits were also a memory Rudy treasured.  Rudy would stick a few extra in his pockets and off they'd go.  Anyone who knows Rudy knows that he was NOT a hunter.  He couldn't kill a thing unless it was threatening someone he loved.  Clyne went pretty light on hunts with Rudy.  Mostly, they just went out and ran the dogs and let them chase some things.

Rudy was with Clyne when he bought THE truck.  The 65 Ford pick up.

Clyne sold the truck to Rudy in 1998.  Rudy was so proud to have it.  After Rudy died, the truck went to Daniel.  I hardly thought it was possible anyone could love the truck more than Rudy, but I believe Daniel has proved that wrong.  The truck is really wonderful, but more than that, it's a piece of family history.  No amount of money would have persuaded me to sell this truck outside of the family, though many offered to "take it off my hands".  

By the way, I still have the wagon Clyne built and later gave to Rudy. Rudy had helped him build it... or rather Clyne let him think he was helping. Actually, I think Rudy paid more attention to Clyne's building skills than anyone realized. The chassis had been an Army ammunition carrier that was pulled by a jeep.  It's wonderful.  It, too, is something I hope will stay in the family.  If any of you Veal's are interested, let me know!  It's a beauty and is still in GREAT shape.  You have to promise to keep it and cherish it!  You can read more about the wagon HERE.

Clyne's wagon

Clyne was quiet spoken.  I loved to watch him at family reunions.  He was usually back from the crowd just a tad, but watching him was like watching a beloved king holding court.  Everyone made sure to go talk to Clyne.  He could be funny, too.  And astute.  I often would hear him say things that I considered profound.  Usually just a short sentence that spoke volumes.

Clyne and Vicki, 2006 reunion
Clyne and Lorene were married for 67 years.  They were hardly apart during that time, right up to the end.  Clyne waited till Lorene was back in the room to take his last breaths.  Their anniversary was last Saturday.  Just before they got together, Clyne had been dating another girl.  Lorene explained to Clyne why that girl wasn't right for him and the rest is history.  If you know Lorene, get her to tell you the story.  It's really funny!


Another reason Rudy loved being around Clyne and Lorene is because they were so happy with each other.  Rudy loved watching Clyne tease Lorene.  He loved how they stayed totally smitten with each other over the years.  Clyne loved Lorene with all his heart til the day he died.  No.  That's probably wrong.  I'm sure even in Heaven, he loves her still and will be watching over her.  He'll expect his whole family to show her the love he no longer can.  And we will.  She's so sweet and fun.  It's not hard to love Lorene.

Some would say that Clyne and Lorene didn't have any children of their own. would certainly say that.  But it wouldn't be true.  They had dozens.  He was sort of the father of the family.  It's hard to explain the truth of that, but if you know any of the cousins in the Veal clan, you've probably heard them try to explain the Clyne mystique.  It's just impossible to come up with the right words for how loved he is and how connected we all feel to him.

If it's true that your loved ones greet you when you go to heaven (and I believe it is), then Clyne was greeted by a huge crowd.  HUGE.  He was loved by so many and a good many of those are no longer here with us.  I know Rudy and Jimmy were there as well as too many others in the family.  I started counting who all would be there to greet him, but I ran out of fingers and toes.  I'm certain it's an amazing reunion.  But here on Earth, we're going to miss him so much.


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