/> Raising Angels: Remembering...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


...Uncle Dick, who died January 7th after a long, hard battle with cancer. Actually, I'm thinking about this fact, but what I'm really remembering is his life and his generosity that allowed me to spend so much of it with him.

My Uncle Dick was a man with a heart as big the lake he lived on. Most of my summer vacations as a kid were spent in a little cabin he bought at the end of the slough of Lake Martin. We packed three families in that two bedroom, one bathroom cabin for a week. It must have been a nightmare for our parents, but for us, it was pretty close to heaven.

We spent those hot, sticky days living in our swimming suits. Our days were passed by diving off the wooden dock, floating on rafts in the middle of the lake, jumping off the top deck of their neighbor's dock as well as a very high cliff know as Chimney Rock. We explored the likes of Sand Island and the grounds around the cabin. We played bumper pool and a number of other games. We learned to ski and slalom. Of course we wiped out a number of times as well. Every once in awhile we caught a fish, or someone's eyelid, with a hook. We made smores by the fire (yes, in July) and watched fireworks from the tiny ski boat in the middle of the lake. We rode and wrecked the dirt bike more times than I can count. We attended mass at the Church in the Pines, which we got to ride to in the boat - so very cool. Most of all we spent time together - aunts, uncles and cousins. We were a family because Uncle Dick gave us his cabin out of the goodness of his heart and his love for his family.

Family was everything to my uncle. I don't remember a major event in our family that he didn't attend. He came to my high school and college graduations as well as those of my brothers. He attended our weddings and when Aaron was ordained in Rome...he was there.

And this summer, when we knew he was not doing well, we all returned the favor and had a big, happy family reunion at the lake he loved and called home.

The only time I ever felt like I got a chance to thank him for all that he had done for me was after I married Nelson. Suddenly I had access to tickets to the Masters that I was able to give to my uncle who lived and breathed golf. I thought he might die that day he actually got on the course, he was so happy.

I will always remember his enthusiastic greeting of, "Hi there Carrot Top!" This was always followed by a big kiss and a hug that nearly swept me off my feet. He was most often found with a PBR in his hand and a cigarette in his lips. He could be found feet up in front of the TV, swinging back and forth on his porch swing staring at the lake he loved, or with his hand on the wheel of his boat and the wind in his hair.

The day before he died, I called my mom, who has now had to use her hospice gift caring for four of her siblings who have died. She let me know that Uncle Dick was now unresponsive and it wouldn’t be long. “Would you like to say goodbye to him?” she asked me. “I don’t think I can do it. I’m crying and he won’t understand me,” was my wimpy response. I handed the phone to Mackenzie so I could compose myself.

In the end I got back on the phone and told my mom I was ready, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. I could hear her tell her brother that it was Amy and I wanted to talk to him. And then I got a chance to do what a lot of people don’t. I said goodbye. But I didn't stop there; I thanked him for all he had done for me. I honored him for his generosity and I told him that I loved him. He died less than 24 hours later.

I’m sad that he’s gone; however, I know he’s in a better place. The morning I found out he died I had this vision of him getting up to heaven and walking into the arms of his parents and brothers and sister already waiting for him. My mom has always said that my grandma would do anything to get her family together.

I love you Uncle Dick and I will miss you dearly. I am so grateful that God put us together. I do have just one more favor to ask you though. Please tell Grandma that enough is enough. We need a few members of her family down here too. Thanks.

*Just for the record, this is not the way my uncle wore his hair, but a hat my mom gave to him this summer. He was a great sport:)


Anonymous Kelly@inthesheepfold said...

This is a beautiful tribute.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Amy, thank you for this! I'm in tears right now--some sad, some joyful. I have always felt so blessed to be a part of this great big family of ours. I'm so thankful for the times growing up when we came together, even if it was once a year, and it felt like we were never apart. We may kid each other a lot, but there has never been anything but love for each other in our hearts. Love ya!

10:17 AM  
Anonymous paul hayner said...

Amy, I am leaving this comment with tears in my eyes. I'm so glad and blessed to be part of our huge family. Thank you so much for posting this on your blog. As long as I live, I will never forget those summers with your family and uncle Mike's family. I love you and look for that visit sooner than previously expected. Its going to be a hug fest. Xoxoxo

10:37 PM  

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