My uncle died early this morning, and while I said my tearful goodbyes to him in August, still nothing can prepare you for the finality of life.
I’ve been thinking on his life for the past month as we knew the end was near and even though his obituary is FULL of his amazing accomplishments on this Earth, it is the little things that I will miss and cherish and learn from, as his niece.
Perhaps he, more than anyone else (save my grandfather) has taught me both frugality but also generosity. He lived humbly but blessed lavishly those around him. I can remember when he saw a need he met it. Once as children, we came home to a brand new VCR on our porch after a visit from him, my aunt, and our cousins. Another time, he and another uncle bought us a dryer when they found out our’s had been broken for some time. When his own father was dying, and he stayed over night at our house, my sisters and I found cash stuffed under our milk thermoses in our lunch boxes when we got to school. Before college he took us shopping and when I got married (though for a short season divorced from my aunt), he still sent a card with a gift.
Then there are memories seared in my mind.
Joking with my mom after a morning run in Memphis and drinking a Coke instead of coffee (bleh!!)
Taking us kids in spins in his corvette/scaring the crap out of us, whilst blaring the beach boys.
Taking my 2 sisters and me, and our 3 cousins out and about, letting everyone think we were all his.
The time he saved my sisters life when her appendix burst after a misdiagnosis.
That at family gatherings, taking pictures and documenting the moment was all of a sudden his thing.
That he always called me Anna Banana, even on his death bed.
My uncle’s obituary says all the technical stuff, the stuff I didn’t know he did (because grownups seem to be particularly humble about all of their awesomeness, I suppose). And let me tell you, what a wonderful life he had. But what it doesn’t say is how much we loved him and how the world will be so much emptier without him. What it doesn’t say is that he would give the shirt off his back to help a friend in need. What it doesn’t say is that he made visits memorably fun for nieces and nephews. What it doesn’t say is that he taught me about Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. What it doesn’t say, is that he was still just recently, slipping in everyone’s beach rentals on family vacation with early morning boxes of donuts and no accolades because he was long gone when we found them. What it doesn’t say is that he was too young and cancer hit right after he retired.
The last time I saw him, sitting there, saying goodbye without saying it, he said “we had some good times.”
Yes we did.