Jun 25 2012
People tend to have a mostly harmless arrogance: They want to believe whatever they have is better than anyone else’s, be it cars, phones or jobs. While we can attribute this to bragging and pride, sometimes there is truth in the mix because sometimes your phone really is better than mine. (please…join me in ignoring a discussion of how subjective “better” is…) And while family may not be the most common representation of this, it is no certainly no exception. I say this because I often tell people my family is the most awesome on the planet, but it really is true, they are a unique group of people who have amazed me and inspired me my whole life.
My aunts and uncles are all very much alike and very different. The similarities are in their closeness (OK I imagine some sibling bickering goes on behind us kid’s backs, but for the most part they are very well behaved), the sense of humour and positive attitudes they all seem to display and their sense of fun. The differences are things like career, personality quirks and the like.
You could pick nickname for each one that suits their personalities (No, I will NOT be providing my list, do your own homework), and for my uncle Dean (who passed away this morning), I think “the biggest kid” would fit. He was one of the older siblings, but as far back as I can remember, he was like this amazing child packed into an adult’s body. He loved to play, and was always a favorite at gatherings, be it for horsey rides or squirt guns. His laughter was constant and infectious. He loved to tell jokes and never seemed to stop smiling.
And he was brilliant. Incredibly intelligent and gifted. His garage was a place of scientific and mechanical wonder, and for the curious child I was, a constant source of fascination. He had everything, as near as I could tell. Packed into that adult’s body was a mad scientist, I swear.
How many uncles can make a metal detector out of scrap wood and spare electircal parts?
He was also a little mishap prone, particularly on his sailboat, but even those events became the stories that had me hanging on the edge of my seat.
Growing up there were a few relatives we spent more time with mostly by virtue of geography. Dean and his wife Kay were among those, so maybe that familiarity has an impact here. It really does not matter to me, each of them, in their own way, has left a mark on our family, and on me.
Dean’s mark on me, his gift, was laughter and the refusal to put away the desire to play upon reaching adulthood. He showed us how to be an adult and never lose that wide eyed wonder at how things worked, and that desire to make every moment feel like recess.
I have not seen him in a couple of years. But I can still hear his laughter.
I hope everyone has an uncle like him, and shares the knowledge of what a blessing someone like him is.
RIP Uncle Dean.
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