Truth be told, I've always wanted to be my grandfather. That's Raymond on the left in cool repose. He was an orphan of my great grandfather Charles Sparrow Bowen. He taught himself Latin and could quote from Ovid. He was the hardest happy man I ever knew and the only one who could shut up my father with a stare. In that he was enormously powerful, yet and still he remained inexplicably humble, especially in the presence of my grandmother whose nickname was Miss Madam. Miss Madam had the kind of presence that made you check your fingernails for dirt and otherwise stand at attention. I can still do a perfect imitation of his gruff voice, very New England he was.
On the right is Uncle Phil. He froze his ass off in Korea and partied his ass of back on the home front. I used to bounce on his belly and had nothing but love for him my whole life. He was the man whose presence let me know my father was not a completely square tight ass. He once whispered conspiratorially to me as I drove him to the liquor store as we ran short of beer one night that 'Your father is so full of shit, he's done worse than me but he doesn't want you all to know'. I responded 'I know', but I didn't and Phil knew I didn't.
These two are Old School for sure, had little tolerance for BS that they didn't initiate themselves. They lived for their families, which for Uncle Fat Phil was us. He didn't play the role and didn't play like he would. These were men who never complained about their lives. They are part of my strength.