Goodbye, Uncle Bill

MomPaulJudyBill Green Lake Aug14I’ve woken this morning, for the first time in my life, to a world in which I can’t visit, see or phone my uncle Bill. Having grown up without a father around & with both grandfathers passed before I was eleven, uncle Bill was the only adult male relative that I really felt close to, growing up. I always had the sense – once I grew up enough to take note – that he tried to step in and do what he could for me and my brothers whenever we were together: from miniature golf when I was a kid and we were all visiting our grandparents, to the summers that he and aunt Judy let me spend at their home when I was a teenager which were an opportunity to spend time with my cousins also, to more recent conversations about my humanitarian medical work, given his role as an eminent MD and medical researcher. I know that it’s one of those essential realities of being human, being organic life, that generations succeed each other and, yes, that generational succession means our elders will not always be with us. Since my work takes me so far away, so much of the time these days, this is one of my greatest fears: losing someone dear to me when I’m thousands of miles and many long flights away. I take slim consolation in my own loss this morning, from my very fond memories of the visits I was able to make to Bill and Judy at their lake house in Wisconsin just last summer, and the time spent at that wonderful family reunion (also known as my niece’s wedding) in New Mexico just weeks later. I haven’t seen Bill since, but with me on the continent we’ve talked by phone a few times. I know with time I’ll adapt to the idea that we won’t talk on the phone or see each other in person again, and that Bill will join my grandmother as one of the people with whom I wish I could share the moments when I’m living most richly — as I’ve done since that other sad family reunion nearly 30 years ago when she had left us all. I know that others feel this loss even more deeply than I, and I send my thoughts to all of my cherished extended family this morning, along with some photos I’ve scanned and pulled from my archives. Though I’ve rarely gotten so personal on this blog, uncle Bill absolutely merits special treatment and this review of my lifetime’s worth of memories of the closest uncle I’ll ever have is the best I can do right now. Good bye, uncle Bill…

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3 responses

  1. Stephen Brockmann

    Wow, Paul, this is beautiful. Brought back so many fine memories.

    March 12, 2015 at 08:17

  2. profknapp

    I am so sorry for your loss. It’s so hard to lose those who have meant so much to us growing up.

    March 12, 2015 at 17:28

  3. Diane Rachiele

    Paul – I am so sorry for the loss of someone dear to you – nothing can prepare us for the absence that is created when someone passes on, especially someone who you have so much to say about. Bon courage! D xo

    March 31, 2015 at 17:16

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