Earlier this week I wrote about the sudden loss of my Uncle Tim; it’s a post I never imagined I would write, and this is another one. I realize this is not a topic I usually write about here, but for those of you who have taken the time to read the thoughts that I just have to get out, and for all of your kind words, thoughts and prayers, I say from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the rest of my family, thank you.
Last night I sat in a room surrounded by my family. It was just our small group; no office acquaintances, no old friends that happened upon the notice in the paper, no funeral directors. Just our immediate family unit. The people who loved him the most, and the people he loved the most. We poured over old pictures of him on the baseball team, with old pets, posing for the yearbook photos, making silly faces and sticking his tongue out at the camera. We tried to hold back tears and we laughed. We told our favorite stories of his life.
I sat there and I listened. I laughed at stories I remembered but hadn’t thought of in ages. I listened to the others tell stories and I was amazed at how one person can have such unique relationships with so many different people. To me, he’s an uncle. But I was also reminded that he is also a brother, a son, a fishing teacher, a buddy. As they all talked about what Uncle Tim means to them and how he would be remembered, I didn’t know what to say. How do you describe someone you’ve known your entire life? Someone you’ve spent so many holidays and weekends and random family gatherings with? How do you put it into words?
And then this afternoon I got a text message from my cousin. He’d been at the house, helping to go through a few of his things and he’d come across something he knew I’d want to see. When I first opened the photo, I didn’t recognize it. But when I saw the inside (and my handwriting), I knew how old it must be. It was an old birthday card that I’m sure my mom had picked out for him so many years before. On the inside, there was a bunch of scribbling in crayon and what looked like my 4 or 5 year-old attempt to sign my name. It was nothing special, just an old birthday card from his niece. But it has to be more than twenty years old; and he had held onto it all these years.
That’s when I knew. I may never be able to put all he is into words, or what he means to our family, or how much he will be missed. But this story is all you really need to know about him.
That’s who he is.