Saturday, March 11, 2006

Influences VII

My Uncle Bill was a part of the Greatest Generation. He served in World War II, and even spent some time as a guard at the Nuremberg trials. He raised a family, paid his taxes, guided his kids to become healthy and happy adults, and was a good brother to my mother. As my godfather, he would come to our lake about once a year and take me out for a day, sometimes golfing, sometimes fishing, even to a real baseball game one time.

My last words to him were "I love you Uncle Bill," and I hugged him. His last words to me were "I love you too." We both meant it. Our exchange was just last week, after my mother's funeral, after he had struggled from his death bed to come to the funeral, after he had conducted himself with dignity in his wheelchair for the better part of the day, and after he had done what I am sure he considered his duty, no matter the physical cost to himself.

On a single day last week, his behavior captured the essence of his life for 79 years on this earth: he sacrificed, he set an example for others, he showed his love for others, and he did what he had to do. He proved himself again to be a singular brother, uncle, and a man.

Yesterday, my Uncle Bill died.

I am blessed that we talked that one last time. I am blessed he was my Uncle Bill.