July 2005, Stephen, Paul, John, and Lou Eckstein
My great uncle, Paul Eckstein died yesterday. This blog is simply catharsis for myself. I am in a funk today. I guess death kind of does that to you. He took his last breath in a deep sleep with his daughter and daughter-in-law by his side. I know the feeling to watch someone take their last breath, so I guess that is why I am just not myself today. So to cleanse and bandage the wound I will write what I loved and what I want to remember.
My Uncle Paul, this man had a smile that I will never forget. His hugs, his smile, his always positive voice and words will stay with me forever. His idea of friendship sharing I never really understood, until recently. He was all about relationships, he loved people, all people and would always be willing to sit and talk about his relationship with his Savior and how that relationship was available to everyone who wanted it. He was a widow, he lost Marilyn to cancer when I was around 14 years old, one time when I was at their house, she gave me some little ceramic rabbits to take home. I still have them, they are in my garden, every time I look at them it makes me smile. Uncle Paul was in WWII. Last time he was here, he was showing Cooper how to salute. Even in his 80's Uncle Paul had a perfect salute. Small in stature, a soft voice, soft hands and a gentle touch, Paul was a fierce warrior of God. He ministered to anyone that needed help with anything, providing a spiritual blessing to people that were hurting and lost. His soft brown eyes carried a wisdom and peace that only comes from suffering, hardship, and victory over them.
Uncle Paul had so much energy, like an energizer bunny, he always was going somewhere, or doing something. He loved to tinker and had a knack for repairing small electronics. My grandpa would save all the various little broken items for when Uncle Paul would come always saying, "I bet Paul could fix this." Paul never thought it was a burden, but would usually be able to fix whatever it was.
My heart hurts for my Grandpa, Paul was closest to him in age. All my life I heard stories of my Grandpa, Paul and John aka Bub, Tiny and Wee Tiny and their adventures as boys in Dallas of the 1930's. Games in the dirt, makeshift bases in a field with baselines drawn with a stick, collecting different colored tickets of the streetcar, which 1 cent candy from the store could win another if the center was the right color, playing church with Paul the preacher repeating the 3 words he knew, "and God said." Story after story, memory after memory, visualized by my Grandpa's weaving of the words. Three poor half Jewish brothers who were thrown into adulthood as they were all drafted into the military. They crossed the Atlantic to fight against the evil that threatened the freedom their Latvian father crossed the same ocean to find. Wounded, missing in action, and combat created an experience that left them scarred but not weakened. All three made it back to the U.S. only by the Grace of God, and the fervent prayers of their mother, father, sister and little brother. This family, my family, is so much of where I came from. I love the story. I wish I could share not only the facts, but the emotions that go along with it. Paul was a vital part of it. John was too, but his mind is clouded these days. My Grandpa and my Uncle Lou are the only ones that really are left of the Eckstein family who made their home in Dallas in the 1930's and later Kansas City. It makes me sad that the end of their stories is at hand, and that so many stories were lost in the passing of Paul.
I have been in a funk today, call it what you will, sadness, grief, mourning. My expression of this has been a general grouchiness to my poor family and my writing.