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Alex Uba, R.I.P.

Growing up, I had two friends that I met in kindergarten, and we remained very close throughout elementary and middle school. When I moved to Maryland at the start of high school, we stayed in touch for a while, making several back and forth visits, but we began drifting apart, until eventually we lost contact. A little over a year ago, I joined Facebook, and discovered that one of them, Alex Uba, was also a member. So, we contacted each other then, but after so many years, there wasn't much to say, and our friendship went back to silence.

A little while ago, I found out that Alex died just a few months after our latest contact. I was shocked. After so little contact over the years, you'd think it would have lessened the impact, but it still hit me hard. I guess I'd always maintained some hope that the next time I made it up to my hometown, I'd give him a call and get together for a few beers. Hell, I still have his old phone number memorized, which I thought might still be his parents' number, so I envisioned giving them a surprise call out of the blue. I'd even occasionally have dreams where our old group met up. Now, I guess I can go look for his grave to pay my respects.

I was flooded with childhood memories of all the things we'd done together. We went through Cub Scouts together, then Boy Scouts. We went camping together nearly every month, shared tents, had the same cabin at summer camp. One year, at the end of the week pool competition, he, the other kindergarten friend, and I won the three person human raft swim race. I helped him on his Eagle Scout project. I went to his birthday party every year, and he always came to mine. I slept over at his house more nights than I could count. In elementary school, we made fun of his name calling him Uba the Tuba, and they made fun of me calling me deaf Jeff. His family took me along to Sunnybrook pool for years when they had a membership, and then we swam at his house once they got their own pool (Sunnybrook Pool has since been filled in). I rode my bike over to his house. We rode around in the go kart that his dad built for him. We towed each other on sleds behind the old used snow mobile his dad fixed up. We flew kites in the field behind his house. We played backyard football and kill the carrier. We even invented our own game that we called Spanish football. I remember the time we bought little balsa wood airplanes and flew them in the field across the street from his house, mixing and matching parts to customize our planes. He loved golf, and took me to a real golf course for one of only two times in my life I've ever played 18 holes. We went to Waltz for miniature golf, the driving range, and the par 3 course. I even caddied for him for a tournament one time. We bowled at Jay Lanes. He played baseball. I didn't, but I'd still be the catcher for him so he could practice his pitching when we played catch. He didn't like his one neighbor, so one night, along with another friend, we toilet papered their trees, threw crabapples into their pool, and tied toilet paper bows around their cars. We fessed up the next morning and had to clean it all up. He found his dad's girlie magazine stash in the attic, and we used to thumb through those every chance we got. We played Hardball and 4th and Inches on our Commodore 64s until our thumbs hurt. They took me to Dorney Park a few times every summer. We went trick or treating together, saving the Huff's house for last, where we always went in for cookies and hot apple cider. He built models, and had his best on display up on his dresser. We were both in the band - I played trombone and he played clarinet. We played tennis together the year one of the middle school teachers tried to start a tennis clinic. We went to the same church, and were in the same CCD class. We went through First Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation together. We were both altar boys, and served together a few times, though he usually served on Saturday night, and I usually served Sunday morning. There was one time when a new altar boy combined the two collections into one sack, and me and Alex tried to split it back up again, only to get caught by the deacon just as we were finishing and scolded not to mix up the money between the two (we never told him it was all screwed up to begin with). We'd even snack on the non-consecrated wafers. I remember the time we used a Ouija board, and we were amazed at how well it worked, until we asked it which one of us was the coolest. Most of all, I remember a good friend, and I can't believe he's gone.

Knowing how I feel after not having seen Alex for 15 years, my heart goes out to his parents, his sister, and his wife that I never met. Alex, you will be missed terribly.


Jeff - I came across this post after searching Alex's name in a search engine. Alex is my cousin. Great to read some nice memories about you and him. He is missed. They just held the second annual memorial golf outing for him this past Friday. I know that his wife, Terrie, Aunt Mary and Uncle Stan still struggle - and Melissa - but I am sure they wouldn't mind hearing from you if you reached out to them. They are on Facebook too - send a note!

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