When I learned earlier this year that my Uncle Nat had cancer and his days were numbered, I went into a sort of shock. I just wasn’t ready to lose him. I still find it very hard to accept the loss. He was such an inspiration to me my entire life, it’s hard to imagine life without him.
He was a writer and I’m a writer,but I don’t know what to say, except that I will miss him terribly. When I remember Uncle Nat, I think of him chuckling. He had a wonderful sense of humor. He was the kind of guy that when you heard a joke or saw something funny, you just had to call him up and tell him about it.
I remember when I saw a poster at Amherst High School of famous gay writers, and one of them was Edna St. Vincent Millay. She was gay, of course, but she was also a member of the LGBTQO community, with the emphasis on O for omnisexual, but my grandmother’s cousin, the famous man of letters Edmund Wilson, known to us as Cousin Bunny,chased her all over Europe to get him to marry her. I had to tell Uncle Nat, and we had a good laugh. I can’t think of anyone else who would really appreciate the humor in that poster.
Uncle Nat was also my godfather, and he sent me wonderful witty letters. He said he supposed godfathers were supposed to supply advice about chorus girls and matters of that kind, but being unfamiliar with chorus girls, he had none. Still he gave me the best guidance I ever had from anyone in the world.
Uncle Nat was also our family’s last link to a world that is gone forever, the world of my grandmother, Essie, and her mother, Tibby, and her mother, Granny Knox, and Cousin Rene Champollion and Cousin Bunny and Uncle Sandy who was a classmate of F.Scott Fitzgerald, and later went crazy and spent fifty years in an asylum — it’s a long story.
There’s so much more that I will miss about Uncle Nat, but for now I can only say his passing has left a huge hole in my heart.