He was immense. Tall and mountainous and strong, making everyone around him look small. He'd let us climb all over him, as kids, while he was watching football. (And he was ALWAYS watching football.) Even though when I was younger, he always seemed quiet and reserved, later, more recently I realized, in the right circumstances he had incredible PRESENCE, too. Loud and laughing, with a million stories to tell that we'd never heard. I wish I'd had an opportunity to listen to them all.
Grandma told us stories about Uncle Dave, growing up. Tragedies, mostly. Opportunities he let slip by, times when he was too stubborn to reach for the happiness just beyond his fingertips and hold tight with both hands. In those stories, Uncle Dave was a mythic figure. A cautionary tale. But I'll never know if they were true. If he'd lived another decade, I still wouldn't. Because no matter how old I got, he was still a mystery, my uncle. A man who, from my perspective, kept his secrets and lived a very private life, too.
Uncle Dave was INCREDIBLY proud of me, as an author. So proud that even when he had distanced himself from other pieces of the family, he made sure I knew it. Made sure he told me how much it meant, how great he thought it was that I was doing what I do. Maybe he wasn't in the heart of things, in the middle of us every holiday, but he saw me--I think he saw all of us, after he found his way to facebook, and kept quiet tabs on all his nieces and nephews. Reaching out where he thought it was warranted, where he felt it was needful and he had something to contribute.
Maybe he was stubborn and prideful, maybe he didn't always get along with us the way we might have liked him to, or made choices we couldn't understand. Maybe we could have done more to get along with HIM. But that part of Uncle Dave I saw in this last ten years or so--that part of him that was watching over us from his careful distance, despite everything else going on in his life, that took pride in the accomplishments we shared--that's the part I admire. The part that inspired.
In the end, the Uncle Dave I knew had an incredible heart. And that's the part of him I'm going to remember, the piece I'm going to hold tight. It's easy to remember the cautionary tales, the tragedies of his life, told and retold to us by Grandma, but this part--this part of him doesn't get credit enough.
Because in the end, I may not have known my uncle all that well, but I believe without a doubt that Uncle Dave FIERCELY loved all of us.
And that's what matters most.
Amazon | Barnes&Noble
Amazon | Barnes&Noble