My Uncle Will passed away this weekend despite a great effort to beat Leukemia. It is hard to express how huge this loss feels and how much I will miss him. I have a wealth of happy memories that I don't ever want to lose so it feels good to write some of them down.
Uncle Will was (or at least felt like) the biggest and tallest man I knew. When I was a kid, he would let me grab onto his thumbs and run up his legs and over his belly until he flipped me upside down. This fun continued way past practicality.
Whenever we had family gatherings, I looked forward to seeing him the most because he gave the strongest flannel-lined hugs that would lift you off your feet.
He was the most outrageous storyteller. Some were true. Some were unbelievable that turned out to be true. Others he would tell so earnestly the whole time that you would believe completely...until the ridiculous punchline. His favorite stories seemed to be ones that would embarass me a little. I wish I could tell the booger story like he could.
He had a farm and some beefalo and would let me name the baby calfs.
He used to bet me ten dollars that I couldn't beat him at checkers and would play with me until I gave up. That always took at least four games.
We used to like making belgain waffles together and we would pile ours with so much whipped cream that you couldn't even see the waffle.
As I got older, we would sometimes talk on the phone. Looking back, I can't believe how much teenage girl nonsense he listened to. He was a great listener and adviser.
He was always eager to see what I made when I was in art school and stayed supportive through all my pursuits.
When he became sick last year, our relationship shifted and we started having deeper discussions about ethics and religion and we found that we were in the like-minded minority about many things. It felt good to know that we were alike on another level besides our love for sweets and our appreciation of the comedic power of poop (he once mailed me a signed copy of this book).
The last time I saw him was a month ago at his home. He and Aunt Hope made blueberry pie and he seemed like he was going to be ok. He passed the 100 day mark after my Mom gave him a bone marrow transplant without rejecting her cells and we all were beginning to think about the future. He showed me a rocking horse he made from wood with a wool mane and asked my advice on starting a business selling handmade items. I would have loved to help him with that venture.
I feel silly to say that his death was shocking since he was seriously ill for a long time but I really am still shocked that he isn't around anymore. I will always remember him up at his farm in Maine, wearing red suspenders and sticking a snowball down my back.
The above photo is one of my favorites of him because I feel like it shows what kind of person he was. When that beetle came along while we were eating dinner, he put on his glasses and urged it to crawl up his finger. Instead of flicking it away, he treated it kindly, studied it, and had a laugh at the tickling feet.