Saturday, 27 February 2016

"The Young Fella": A Tribute to my Uncle Shirley

      It’s been seven months now since my Uncle Shirley Fullerton passed away at the age of 91.  I started writing this the day we got the call from his son Terry telling us that “the old man slipped the clutch.”  I’ve procrastinated in my tribute to this man long enough. 

S.W. Fullerton

     My father’s younger brother, who lived closest to us geographically, was probably closest to me uncle-wise as well.  My father always called him “The Young Fella” as in, “Barb, run up the road and get some baler twine from The Young Fella.”

Bales and Bales and more Bales

     He loved his family and was so proud of each and every one of them.  That was no secret.  Happily married for 65 years, he often referred to his wife Isabel as “a terrific life-partner.”  

Shirley and Isabel

      They had four children, eleven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. 
Shirley, Isabel, 
JOAN and Bill; TERRY and Nancy;  
TREVA and Mike;  KEVIN and Beth

     I’m sure there are many more descendants to come. 
Shirley with his youngest descendant, Claire

     He was a true farmer and successful in his “fields”.  I went to him frequently for advice about my not-as-successful gardening forays.  In fact, my last visit with him revolved around the benefits of chicken manure.  "It's gold, Barb."  As a matter of fact, every visit I had with him eventually got around to chicken manure.  New Brunswick politics, who died, the river, squash, weather, rhubarb, chicken manure.  And neither one of us used the word “manure.” 

Ah, The Benefits of Chicken Manure

     He was kind and caring to me.  He was an outspoken man but I never felt personally under attack by him.  He was interested; some people might call it nosy, but I never felt his questions to be invasive.  I’m sticking with interested.  How many people do you know who are really interested in you?  And how many people do you know who talk only about themselves, their children, their accomplishments, their health and never once ask about your kids or your aches and pains?  The “it’s all about me” set.  Well, Shirley was not “all about me”; he wanted to know all about you, too!

Shirley in his Nineties

      He had his opinions.  And he would share them with you.  They could be pretty strong but you could counter them, you could disagree, you could state your own viewpoint.  You might not change his mind, but you felt safe enough to voice your opinion.  He did hear you.

SWF:  1924-2015

     I could go on and on about this man.  How he lost three fingers on his left hand at the age of five when he slipped on the ice while carrying a sharp axe to the woods.  I could challenge you to imagine being a farmer and a woodsman with such a disability.  You never heard any complaints about that.  I could tell you about the personal losses and setbacks he had during his life and how he soldiered on through them.  I could tell you how he loved to dance, to laugh, to travel.  I could tell you how he would share both shad and gaspereaux with me.  I could tell you how he loved music, loved his church.  I could tell you that, unlike many Fullertons, he was able to feel emotion and was not afraid to show it. 

My Uncle

     It is all about perspective, isn’t it?  Every relationship in life is as unique as the people involved.  This is my story, my experience; this is what my uncle was to me. I’m a niece, a little more removed than some, and a little closer than others.  He was a great uncle and I do miss him. 

......Until Next Time.....