I lost an uncle this week—he passed away on Tuesday from a heart attack at age 82. And, his passing got me thinking about the role of uncles in our lives.
- An uncle is the guy who can get away with telling you an off-color joke or story, or the guy who may take you to a movie which your parents deem questionable. It becomes your own little secret with him.
- An uncle is the guy who will teach you a skill that your father may not have mastered.
- An uncle is the guy who can tell you a story which will cause his own children to roll their eyes, given the frequency of their hearing the tale, but which is new material for you. Uncles always seem to be good raconteurs.
- An uncle is the brother (or brother-in-law) of your mother or father, meaning he will have “dirt” on their behavior from a younger, pre-parent age. And, more often than not, he will fill you in on these immature antics.
- An uncle is the one who will tease you mercilessly about your involvement, or lack thereof, with the opposite sex. Yet, he’s the one whose approval you seek when you find “the one.”
- An uncle is the guy who plays Santa Claus to you or your kids at Christmastime.
- An uncle is a sounding-board, a counselor, a mentor.
I last saw my uncle this past winter. His wife—my aunt--had passed two years earlier. But, he had adjusted to life alone—surviving a bout with cancer, discovering nature photography, continuing with his woodworking, and deciding to travel north to visit relatives and seek out information on his German ancestry. He still loved to bowl, golf and fish. And, he visited his four daughters, and their husbands and his grandkids, regularly.
All this is why his sudden death is a shock but yet a blessing. I’m not sure my uncle was the kind of guy to linger here if he was battling illness--not when there were pieces of wood to whittle and golf holes to be played in Heaven.