Leonard Columbus Stoots
Found out this afternoon that my favorite Uncle has past. He was the funniest and kindest man. I really loved going to visit at his house when my family traveled to east Tennessee to see our family. Both my parents, were born and raised there. My sisters and I were born there, but raised in northern Virginia. So we traveled over the mountain each summer and most holidays to visit. And my Uncle Leonard’s house was always on the agenda. Even in this last picture I have of the surviving siblings, you can see he’s the one who looks like he’s having a good time.
Last time I saw Uncle Leonard, my son was 2 and we had gone to Tennessee for my Dad’s funeral. I’m so glad we were able to visit him then and that he and my Aunt Mildred had a chance to meet my son and my partner Garrett.
We were sitting in the kitchen around the table and Uncle Leonard kept encouraging my son to open the cabinets and see what’s in them. My Munchkin found a cabinet where they stored breakfast cereal, Uncle Leonard told him to “pull one of those out of there and see what’s in it”. The 2 year old he pulled out a box. Again Uncle Leonard encouraged him to open the box and “have him some”. And the little kid was certainly all for that.
Then he started getting out the pots and pans, making noise and drumming on each one. Again encouraged by my Uncle. Aunt Mildred was all for it too, she gave him a spoon to make drumming easier. Egads, the noise was deafening. But the kid certainly had a great time. It was at that visit I said to Gary “See why he’s my favorite Uncle?” Aunt Mildred quickly responded “Don’t tell him that!” It was hilarious.
My Uncle was one of the most encouraging people I know. Always supportive and trying to help not only his kids, but any kid. I loved that about him. He always looked for the good in every situation. Even when bad things happened.
When I wanted to go to college, it was my Uncle Leonard who did what he could to help. That meant letting us park a camper in his side yard to save money on dorm living. I loved it. My own little place to study and hang out without someone else blaring a radio with music I didn’t like down the hall. The night I heard something out on the “porch” (he placed two pallets in front of the camper door for me), it was Uncle Leonard who came to the rescue. Seems a skunk found the porch interesting. Great!! He managed to scare the little critter off, but um..not without a little marking his stink first.
On most Saturday’s I’d go on errands with him in town. They lived out in the country, so in town wasn’t exactly close by. One day I asked him how he meet Aunt Mildred. He told me that one day he was in church, sitting on the end row in the choir was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. They “got to talkin’ after church” and a week later he went off to ask her Dad if he could court her.
Mildred’s Dad said No. But somehow Leonard won Dad over and he took Mildred to a Church picnic. It wasn’t long after that they were married. They started a family and eight kids later, they were still in love. And yes, you saw that right, 8 kids. They were named Robert and William, etc; but by nickname in order of age: Bobby, Billy, Benny, Beverly, Brian, Barbara, Barry, Benita.
We thought when we lost Aunt Mildred, it wouldn’t be long before Uncle Leonard left us too. He really loved and missed her. But he hung on for quite some time. Playing with grandkids and great grandkids.
Out of the eleven children in my Mom’s family there are only three left now. My Mom being the oldest. Uncle James and Uncle Robert are the other two.
I wish we could have gotten back to Tennessee to see my Uncle Leonard. I would have liked him to see my Son and what a great kid he’s turning out to be. The world is lesser place today. I’m going to miss him a lot.
© 2013 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.