My step-uncle Cuyler Wenberg passed away yesterday, May 3rd. He was 83. He had a stroke some time back and recently came down with pneumonia and throat trouble that made it hard for him to swallow . . . things went downhill from there.
Cy was a great guy, I will miss him a lot. I don’t have too much to say about his death, or life. The news is still sinking in. It’s still pretty raw.
The first time I met Cy, we went to a bluegrass festival in Orange County together. We rode up there and slept in his camper, which was a little funky, but I liked that, and I liked him right away. This might sound strange to some folks but what really sold me on him was when he told me that one time he took his kids to a Bruce Springsteen concert. I could tell he wasn’t a big rock music fan, but anybody who’d do something like that is just all right with me.
Among other things, Cy was a writer. He self-published two books, one a work of fiction titled Atlantis, Beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and Gadflies, a collection of short essays. To my mind, he wasn’t much of a gadfly himself. He didn’t rock the boat and he wasn’t irritable. I’d describe him as an eclectic man, and a natural man, drawn to the earth and the sea. His essay writing reminded me a little of Woody Guthrie. In Gadflies, instead of a table of contents, he wrote:
WELCOME TO MY IDEATIONS,
Ideations – that’s the kind of word Woody would have made up. But Cy’s ideations were all his own.
After he moved to Coos Bay, Oregon we had many a phone conversation about writing, life, and other things. He’d completed a novel about Moses that he sent to me. To be honest, I didn’t get very far with it. Moses is not really up my alley. But I admired him for completing 3 books, while I was, and still am, trying to write past the third chapter in just one.
Here is an essay from Gadflies. I chose this one because it tells a little about his background and family, and it’s a good reflection of his personality.
I have two special cups, my favorites. One was given to me by my daughter, Lori, the other by my daughter Kristin.
I’m sure everyone has a favorite cup or two commemorating a special occasion. Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor were all special to the Wenberg clan when I was a youngster. These were the times all the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and a few close friends, would meet at Elk Grove, located on the outskirts of Chicago. It was a picknicking day of baseball and other games, visiting, eating, and in the afternoon, a siesta time in the shade for some of the older folks.
I was reminded of those earlier times when a Wenberg reunion was proposed by my brother, Earl, and Reita, his wife – a weekend on the Oregon Coast. Now I was one of the older generation, along with my wife, Lu, plus Earl and Reita, and sister Hazel and her husband Ernie, together with our families. It was a great time. Unlike living within twenty or thirty minutes of each other as our clan did in the Chicago area, our reunion brought us kinfolk together from all up and down the Pacific Coast.
On our last evening together, the camp-fire’s flickering glow just a stone’s throw from the murmuring waves of the Pacific ocean, Lori presented Hazel, Earl, and I each with a cup. A cup with a traditional orange/red-colored Swedish wooden horse imprinted on the side – a neat reminder both of the reunion and our Swedish heritage. That cup also stirs to mind memories of those earlier reunions, also of Lori and the special times I’ve shared with her family. It is my ‘camping’ cup, and travels in its own special perch in my van.
I don’t remember the specific date when I received my cup from Kristin. I believe it was a birthday p[resent. It is my ‘office’ cup, and also occupies a special place in my heart – that’s because we used to work in the mortgage business together. Like so many well-used office cups, I had allowed residue dregs from countless fillings of coffee to build up in Kristin’s cup to the point they began to look permanent, like brown-glazed pottery.
One morning, before its usual fill-up, I attacked the cup with gritty soap and water. The brown overlayment stubbornly, but gradually, rinsed away. One particularly bothersome spot on the bottom of the cup refused to dissolve. It achieves this ‘special’ status when I rediscovered a special message hidden in its bowl.
Rubbing harder, it slowly transformed into a heat-shaped reddish color – then fine print appeared just above the now visible heart that spelled out, together with the heart, “I (heart) a lot.” I had completely forgotten it was imprinted in the bottom of the cup. The inside heart, coupled with a happy face and words on the outside of the cup repeated the message, “I love you a lot.”
Cups. I wonder if any of the disciples ever went back to the upper room after the crucifixion, the room where they had celebrated the last Passover with Jesus and shared a cup with Him. I wonder if any of the disciples ever went back for that cup, that silver chalice of history, books, and legend?
“And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten saying, ‘This cup which is poured out of you is the New Covenant in my blood.” Luke 22:20
Reprinted from GADFLIES © 2003 Cy Wenberg, published by Trafford
Cy, I have a cup just like yours, stained with “residue dregs from countless fillings of coffee” that I’ve had for six or seven years. About twice a year, I actually use some soap to clean it, instead of just washing it out with water. Tonight, I lift my cup and share it with you.