Part of what motivated me to go through wedding photos last week was to see if I could find any photos of my uncle Corky. I found one.
That’s him in the back row, second from the left.
Corky deserves a good chunk of credit for one of my defining characteristics. Brenda and Corky both shaped me into a person who loves to eat and cook. Lord knows I wasn’t that way as a kid! Growing up, when forced to eat salad, I ate it without dressing. When forced to eat a baked potato, I ate it plain. Rolls without butter. (Actually, I still do that last one.) And cooking? Nope.
All of that changed for me in college, and Corky was a big part of that transformation. It started freshman year, when Corky and Brenda made sure my dorm room was stocked with an absolutely ludicrous amount of food. Way more than I could eat by myself, so I shared it. The closet-sized room I shared with Chris Libby became one of the social centers of the dorm. Through this experience, Corky helped teach me a valuable life lesson: There is no better way to make and cement friendships than by sharing food. That freshman experience helped inspire me to learn to cook, and I have many fond Williamsburg memories that revolve around grocery shopping, cooking, and eating. I don’t think things would have unfolded that way without Corky and Brenda’s freshman year push.
Bookending my college years, I remember Corky and Brenda taking me out to dinner my senior year. At an Italian restaurant in a Williamsburg strip mall, Corky taught me about pairing wine with food, and how slurping air through a mouthful of wine will enhance its flavor. Judging by the number of bottles of wine in my basement today, that was another successful life lesson.
Now that I think about it, I may be getting something wrong as a parent of two picky-eater boys. So far I haven’t worried about their one-dimensional diets. I was a picky eater as a kid and I grew into someone who loves food. I’ve been trusting the same will happen with Alex and Patrick, just because they’ll get hungry as teenagers. But maybe they’ll need someone like Corky in their lives to nudge them in the right direction at the right time. I did.
Like everyone, I’m still adjusting to the fact he’s gone. But I’ve got a cookbook full of his recipes in the kitchen, cases of wine downstairs, and lots of friends to eat with. I’ll remember him every day.