My brothers and I are leaving Friday morning to drive to Montreal to my uncle’s funeral. Uncle Ken was 87 and until about a year ago, was a robust, fun-loving man who could make anyone laugh. He always had a wisecrack or corner-of-the-mouth comment about everyone and everything.

He was the second oldest after my mother. The only boy who survived out of three. He had three sisters, one older – my mother – and two younger. Those were hard times. My grandpa was a sleeping car porter – one of the few occupations a black man could get in those Depression days. My grandma worked wherever she could. Both parents dies when my mother was 19. My youngest aunt was 9 at the time. She’s now 84, but there’s still that air of loss and bewilderment that attached itself when she was so young. But at his surprise birthday party seven years ago, the family gathered for food and music and laughter, as we will do again this weekend. My aunty Creena may not know what’s going on this weekend or who we are because she has the beginnings of Alzheimers. Nevertheless, we’ll be there for her and my cousins Linda and Debra. That’s what we do.

Rest in peace, Uncle Ken. You are much loved.