The service for my uncle was comforting, touching and, as expected, emotionally difficult. The support from the Odessa community, family and friends was overwhelming (in a very good way) and much needed. For the funeral service I wrote and read a letter to my Uncle Bob. It was personal but I think the overall message was in everyone’s hearts who knew him. So I wanted to share it in the hope it brings comfort, or at least some positivity, to others who are grieving as well.
What can I say? We miss you. All of us – your friends, your family and even your old four-legged friend, Jim dog. As with everyone else you impacted, I have been thinking about you a lot over the past week. Losing you has rocked our worlds in the most heart breaking and gut wrenching way. You see, Uncle Bob, you are one of a kind. Not many families are blessed with a man like you. I can see why Aunt Marie pursued you. As a teenager she saw what we all got to see everyday – A kind, patient, hard-working, loving and supporting man. Aunt Marie knew to lock that down immediately. Smart woman. You are a true family man.
I am still expecting to see your friendly familiar face at any moment. And that grin of yours that was always illuminated by the twinkle in your eye. You were a steady supportive rock in my life as well as many many others. I’m just a niece but you loved me like a daughter. Even Dean (my husband) loves you like a second dad. And I know it’s not just us – you’ve got a fan club of individuals who’s lives are better because you were in it.
You know how our family always says it takes a village? Wow is that ever so true. I think back on the role you played in my life ( as well as all of my cousins) and am awestruck by how truly selfless you were.
I’m smiling right now because I know how you were about receiving compliments…. I’m certain you are looking down right now doing that thing where you wave your hand dismissively and say “baaaah”.
I want to thank you Uncle Bob.
Thank you for living life to the fullest. One of my favorite memories is an impromptu dance party at your house in the living room. I can’t remember what song was playing but you, me, Kevin, Robin, Aunt Marie and a few other cousins were sitting around the living room listening to 61 country on that old stereo. I can’t remember what old country western song came on but one minute we were all toe-tapping and the next minute that living room was a dance floor and not a single person was sitting. Just a random afternoon and we are dancing like fools because life with you and Aunt Marie and our family is a party.
Speaking of fun, thank you for the canoe trips, the couch burning parties, always being the driver when we wanted to go cruisin’ around Odessa in the old silver van with the blue shag carpet, letting us construct forts in the woods, fishing on Sundays, housing the horses, dogs and pigs so we could all experience farm life, and keeping that go cart tuned up for rides even though we tore the hell out of your yard…. And the list goes on.
Thank you for showing us the importance of hard work, discipline and work ethic. You lead by example and walked the walk. I remember as a kid someone telling me that not only did you work all day but then you’d come home and run 10 miles. My mind was and still is baffled by that. Then you’d mow the lawn and tend the garden and feed the animals. You never stopped doing. Uncle Bob I promise you when I’m being lazy I’ll think of you to motivate me. To make the most of everyday. No one motivates quite like you Uncle Bob. You taught us to be better, respectful human beings. One of my brother’s favorite stories is while on a canoe trip young JP decided he did not need to wear his life jacket. Uncle Bob was having none of that and told him to put on. JP said something like “you can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my dad”. Well JP witnessed a miracle that day because Uncle Bob rose up out of his canoe and walked on water to teach JP a life long lesson of respect…. JP never took that life jacket off again.
Finally, I think the biggest thank you is the simplest – thank you for always being there. For being our second dad. For taking the time even though you didn’t have to. Whether it was driving 8 hours to Indiana to help one of us move out of a dorm room, or standing in a certain spot at a sporting event so we see your reassuring face, or cleaning the food off our plates when our parents weren’t looking, or letting us sit on your lap and cry about a breakup, you never turned us away. You never judged or asked questions. You were just there. It means more than you’ll ever know.
Uncle Bob we will never forget you. We will grieve you until the end of time because you are so worth grieving over. Our village will never be the same without you, but lucky for us we have the lessons you taught us and we will always carry those in our hearts. And when we are struggling I know we can turn to you because you are always listening.
And some day when I have kids I’ll tell them about you and I hope I will be able to do half as good a job as you and Aunt Marie did with your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews.
As my Mamaw always said “it’s never goodbye… Just see you later.”
Love you always.