The Legend of a Man

Caregiver, Linda Bauters, looks back on her Uncle Yonno’s legacy.

Sebastian, better known as Yonno, was born on February 26, 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. There were twelve members in his family he was the fifth child. He completed eight years of formal schooling. He started working when he was seven, selling newspapers on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit for one cent; he received a half penny per newspaper.

Bauters-Eric and Uncle Yonno

 

Yonno was an entrepreneur and a hard worker. He started his own diner called Yonno’s. He was the owner and head chef with help from his brothers and sisters. This restaurant was on Jefferson Avenue. It was a popular place for the police officers whose station was across the street; families; soldiers, who were home on leave during World War II; and visitors to the town. He said the key to a successful restaurant was good-quality food; most important was having excellent hot coffee.

After he sold his restaurant, he started a rubbish business in Detroit. His company, Commercial Removal, was the first privately owned rubbish business. He picked up garbage for commercial and residential customers. His business grew. He brought family members into the business including his siblings. He was the sole owner for 30 years before merging twice with larger commercial business until he retired.

Yonno remained close with his family. He was especially close to my mom, his sister, Domenica, or Mary as she called herself. When I was growing up, Uncle Yonno came to my parents’ home regularly. He came to many of our family functions after I got married. At the time we had our youngest son, Eric, we saw him frequently. He would ask Eric about how he was doing in school and said how important it was to get a good education. On Eric’s days off of school we enjoyed going to the movies with Uncle Yonno. Eric helped him a lot.

In the last 20 years of his incredible life, he developed Alzheimer’s and diabetes. In the last 10 years he became extremely paranoid and had many quirks. It became a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. There are so many emotions involved. How do you separate how that person is now to how they were before? It becomes a blur. The one thing that remained was his smile; he was always happy to see us.

Uncle Yonno was usually a genteel happy person who would help anyone.

He had one obsessive fixation on a man I never knew nor could I find, even with the help of a private investigator. Gary Fincher remained in Yonno’s mind and life. Uncle Yonno accused Gary of taking things from him. Usually, they were not of any great value, for example, his tie, socks, and an extra empty wallet (some of which were later found). Through Uncle Yonno’s eyes, Gary seemed to be quite a character and caused him, a lot of anxiety. As his primary caregiver, I would calm my uncle, saying Gary was arrested and put in jail. This worked for a time, but Gary kept coming back! Agitated, Yonno would demand help from me and the police.

Uncle Yonno had the physical strength of Goliath! On his last hospital visit he had fallen. He required surgery to repair his broken hip. When I visited him, he would repeat, “Linda get me out of here.” I assured him he could leave soon. Once, I went into the bathroom; when I returned to his hospital bed, he glared at me. There was a pool of blood on his sheets. He had pulled out his catheter and IV. The IV was tightly wound-up sitting on his tray. He has never been that neat. What he had done was serious, yet it evoked shock and laughter.

Bauters-Uncle Yonno and shoes-tcv

My son has “Uncle Yonno” on every pair of basketball shoes he wore in high school. Uncle Yonno rarely complained (except about Gary Fincher and being in the hospital). Although juggling the demands of caregiving was difficult, I felt honored that he trusted my husband and me to take care of my uncle, a most caring and giving individual. He passed away (along with Gary Fincher) at age 95.

Every day we feel Uncle Yonno’s love, presence, and the warmth of that great big smile. He is a Legend of a Man who was larger than life and continues to inspire us.

Linda Diane Bauters, caregiver, story author, volunteer

 

Linda Diane Bauters is a caregiver, volunteer, super mom, worker, and multitasker. She has cared for her uncle, parents and worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA. Linda is a member of and contributor to the Michigan Parkinson Foundation and Alzheimer’s Association, where she also volunteers.

 

[Edited and abridged by The Caregiver’s Voice]

The post The Legend of a Man first appeared on The Caregivers Voice.

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