a very fond farewell
My great-uncle Mike Cutrone died peacefully in his sleep last night, having turned 94 back on April 20th… the same birthday as our newest family member, it just so happens. We’re already joking, as he certainly would have himself, that he decided to step aside so his new great-great-nephew could have that birthday all to himself.
We saw a lot of Uncle Mike when I was growing up because he lived with my grandparents (lived with them 51 years, in fact!). He never married or had kids, but he obviously loved spending time with me, my brother, and our cousins — he was just like an extra grandparent to all of us.
He had a little woodshop in the basement when they lived in Jamaica, Queens, and enjoyed tinkering with all sorts of projects down there. One of the standouts was a Christmas gift he gave me when I was little. I had a stuffed Snoopy doll at the time that accompanied me everywhere, and I’d recently been introduced to skiing, so he crafted up a set of skis and ski poles for Snoopy that you just had to see to believe. Perfectly planed tips on the skis, little rawhide wrist straps and bindings, cool racing stripes painted on, the whole nine yards. Even to a little kid, the attention to detail and the joy he’d put into the project were plain to see.
In he last few years, he was having a lot of the physical difficulties that you might expect to come with reaching one’s mid-nineties, and he told my mom and grandmother on several occasions that he was ready to go see what comes next. I’m really glad I got the chance to introduce Violet to him before he did.
I’ll be sure to tell her all about you, Uncle Mike — we love you, big guy!