Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peter Bear

My uncle Pete passed away last week. I wanted to make sure that I blogged about some of my memories of him and some of the things I learned about him at his funeral so I would always remember them. I was able to see Pete from a different perspective after hearing other people talk about him and I am so glad that they shared their stories with me.

To me, Uncle Pete was always a rough character. He worked in the woods, loved to hunt and fish, belonged to a local motorcycle gang and loved the great outdoors. He was never married - I never even knew of him having a girlfriend. Not surprising really. I can't imagine him "settling down". He was a loner for most of his life. To people that did not know him he must have looked a little menacing. Picture a large unshaven man riding a Harley, wearing a black leather vest (with a skull emblem on the back) and dirty ragged jeans. He wouldn't be someone you would wander up to to ask directions to church :) But he was quite the opposite of the image he projected. His brothers in the biker club said he always preferred talking to fighting. Don't get me wrong - I'm sure he had a few fights in his time but it was always as a last resort.

Pete loved to cook and LOVED to eat. Truthfully all of my family on mom's side of the family like to eat but Pete was our leader. We think he weighed about 425lbs when he died - like I said - our leader :) He lived most of his life at that weight. It didn't seem to stop him from living and enjoying life.

One of the stories I heard at the funeral was that when he hunted or fished he would often give the meat away to families that he knew would otherwise go hungry. But he never wanted them to know who gave it to them. That really struck me. Pete just loved to know he was making a difference in someones life. I love that.

The minister, Leonard, told a story about Pete that made my jaw drop. He used to work in the woods with Pete. The men would each take their team of horses into the woods and hook up 2 logs to the team and then drive them out. But not Pete. Once he had hooked up the 2 logs to the team he would throw a log over his shoulder and drive the team out carrying the log on his back. Leonard joked that Pete had an unfair advantage because he had a 3 horsepower team while the rest of the men only had 2. I always knew Pete was strong - he used to toss us kids around like we were kindling but I had no idea how strong. He also loved to carry us around the yard by holding us by our ankles upside down - one kid in each hand. That seems like such a long time ago.

Pete developed diabetes later in life and started to loose his eyesight in the last few years. He moved into an apartment close to my mom so she could monitor his sugar levels twice a day and help him with this needles. I know she will miss him and miss the stories that he used to share with her during her daily visits.

His funeral was attended by many family and friends. All his biker brothers attended as well. They all escorted the hearse to the cemetery. That in itself was quite a sight to see. I think I counted 55 Harley's in front of us and the hearse. Pete would have loved that.

The boys invited all the family back to their clubhouse for a wake in honor of Peter (they called him Big Pete). It was nice to see where Pete lived for 18 years. That is probably the longest he ever stayed in one place. It was more of a camp than a house so it suited him and his lifestyle. When I walked out on the deck I could see why Pete stayed there so long - the view from the deck was phenomenal. You could see the mountains and valleys for miles and miles and there wasn't a house in sight. Through all the chaos of the boys drinking and toasting him inside the clubhouse, I preferred to think of him while I looked into the mountains that he loved.

Rest in Peace Peter Bear.