Today my Uncle Jack Allen died.
He was married to my Aunt Toots for many years, up until she died back in 1995, just six weeks after Allen did.
I don’t think he ever quite got over losing her, even though he did of course eventually move on. Still, it was mainly a solitary existence in the house they’d shared.
You might think this was the basis for a sort of unspoken kinship between him and me (he was a man of few words), but the similarity of our lots wasn’t the majority factor.
No: he loved her and she loved him. Of course that’s true but that was between the two of them. For my part, he made her happy.
What else is there to feel for the one who makes someone you love so dearly so joyfully, obviously, ebulliently happy?
I had plenty of reasons to like Jack Allen. I loved Jack Allen, just for himself. I honored him every day for what he did for one of the most important people I ever had or will have in my life.
In a world of bread and circuses having become a cottage industry around other people’s pain and misfortune: institutionalized schadenfreude. It’s a German word that translates to “joy of harm” — others’ harm.
It’s never been my favorite fare. It only lands you in a group of people you wouldn’t want to spend your happier times around.
Me? I’m coining “schadenglück”, which translates to “joy of happiness”, schadenfreude’s long-needed antonym.
So here’s to Jack Allen. Thank you for having been part of our family, for having made my Aunt Toots so very very happy, and for understanding. You will be greatly missed by me and my whole family.