My uncle, Donald Ray Harris, died on 10 September 2019. Saying it sounds so clinical and in no way reflects my sorrow.
Some favorite memories of my uncle.
The first was of him visiting my family after we moved to Beverly Manor, a subdivision of Washington, Illinois. He was moving to a job at Caterpillar Tractor Company and would work with his brothers, James and Robert.
I found it interesting, funny to a preteen, he married my best friend’s sister, Helen Jeanette Emhoff. They lived in Beverly Manor a couple blocks from us. That is until they built a house in a new subdivision of Washington.
I think I laughed when he told me they were moving to live in a basement. Who lived in a basement? They did while he and his brothers built the house and garage. I am not sure but I suspect his older sons provided help with the construction.
I had left Illinois when he retired from “CAT” and sold the house. Uncle Don and Aunt Jeanette moved to Texas where he lived for several years before moving back to Washington, Illinois. He bought a property close to where my parents now lived and built another house.
Illinois couldn’t keep him or my Aunt Jeanette. Soon, he sold their house, and they settled in Alba, Texas. It was home until both of them passed, my aunt in November 2017 and he this month.
None of this tells how soft spoken and kind he was. I don’t remember hearing him yell, not even in frustration, or curse. He had a distinctive chuckle and was quick to laugh during our last times together.
There are many more memories, but the most recent was this summer. We were returning home in our RV and stopped for a few hours to visit. As we had for the past two years, I pulled our 32-foot RV into his driveway. When it was time to leave, he told me to back into his yard and then pull out.
He warned not to back into a tree he had planted. Two years ago, he stood by it and guided me. This year, my wife stood by it. Uncle Don stood in front of me while I backed into the yard. He stopped me once because I was not turning quickly enough. Finally, I had the RV where I could pull out.
He was standing waving goodbye as I pulled out of his driveway. A memory I will always have.
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