In Memoriam: Rest in Peace Uncle Mel

Posted: May 25, 2019 in Experiences, Family, Memories and Tributes
Tags: , ,

Every year for our wedding anniversary my wife and I go hunting for a new piece of art for our collection. Sometimes more than once a year. Do you know where I learned to do that?

My Uncle Mel.

In the 1980’s I decided that it was time to stop being a shy, low self-esteem guy so I took an improv comedy class specifically intended to help guys like me, from a guy named Conley Falk. It was called “The Inner Theater”. You know who told me, for the next 30 years, how proud he was to see the changes I made in myself?

My Uncle Mel.

in the late 1970’s and early 80’s I had my electronic and chamber music performed at least once a year when I was in the composition program at CalArts. My parents always came to my concerts. Know who else came to every one of my performances?

My Uncle Mel.

Know who taught me to love basketball? Uncle Mel.

Know who bought me my first set of golf clubs? Uncle Mel.

Who took me to see Luciano Berio conduct the LA Philharmonic? Uncle Mel.

Taught me to love Jazz? Uncle Mel.

To love architecture? Uncle Mel.

Rothko? Mel.

In fact, a few years ago I had the honor of being invited to photograph Chris Rothko’s Family Reunion during the Mark Rothko exhibition at the Portland Art Museum. I spent my whole afternoon hanging with Mark Rothko’s family. I was so excited because just being in the presence of Rothkos was mind-blowing. There is only one person who I rushed to call at the end of that wonderful day.

My Uncle Mel.

One day, well into my adulthood, I was talking about my youth with my uncle Mel and I told him I wish I had studied more technical subjects in High School. I’d become a software engineer and that would have helped me a lot.

You know who looked at me, smiled, called me out on the carpet, and said: “So, are you done rebelling against your dad yet?” Yup……….

Uncle Mel.

I have this really silly photograph of me, in the mid-1980’s, dressed in a ridiculous 1980’s red shirt and white vest, pretending to eat ice cream directly from this big container. That was in the back yard of my Uncle Mel’s house at his 50th Birthday party…. I’m now 9 years older than he was back then.

Mel was the youngest of 4 brothers and the uncle who was closest to me. In retrospect, he was like a second father. I loved all my uncles, all of my family in fact. But, do you know who taught me to love all those people? You guessed it.

Uncle Mel.

Rarely in life does one encounter someone who is 100% genuine, has unqualified love for his entire extended family, and is unconditionally supportive; someone who supports you through bad decisions and celebrates the good ones; who is kind, warm, and loving (even while chasing his brother around the campfire on one memorable backpacking trip); who is truly a good human being. That was my Uncle Mel and I will always cherish his memory.

With me as I write this is one of Mel’s sculptures. Lot’s of the Bilow clan have similar copies. In Uncle Mel’s memory I’ll leave you with this:

2019-05-25_20-15-15_185

זכרונו לברכה

Rest in Peace Uncle Mel! I love you.

 

Comments
  1. Cheryl says:

    Steve, he was certainly a great influence and inspiration to all of us. These sweet memories of his support and encouragement really sum up who he was; an uncle we could all rely on to be there when we needed an “extra dad” in our lives. He always filled the gap, with his love and kindness & encouraging words. Thank you for writing such a wonderful memorial for our uncle who we will never forget.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s