Uncle Fun passed away a few months ago. Bryan was one of my dad's brothers and he was very close to my family. As a young child, I used stand at the top of my grandmother's basement stairs and yell down "Hey you guys!" as a personal alarm for him and my Uncle Jimmy. (I was a huge fan of the Electric Company!)
Uncle Bryan always had time for his nieces and nephews. And it's not that he just had the time, he relished in spending time with us. I remember him "fixing" my little stuffed bunny, Goobie. Goobie's ear had come off while visiting my grandmother. It was bedtime and I needed him to be able to fall asleep. I distinctly recall Uncle Bryan pulling one of his mustache whiskers right out from his upper lip and using it to reattach Goobie's ear! Looking back, I'm sure he was just moistening some thread before threading a needle. But boy was I in awe of his sewing ability back then. I didn't know anyone else that used his own whiskers to rescue stuffed animals!
I played Cup Links (I never had Legos!) with Uncle Bryan. I loved building all sorts of contraptions with him. As I grew older, he stayed with us for quite some time as he and my dad built an extensive addition onto the funeral home. Back then I had an over sized coloring book entitled "The Adventures of CB Rabbit" that we colored together. What a fun uncle!
I've aspired to be my generation's version of Uncle Fun. I have two nephews and a niece. I'm pretty sure the oldest nephew had a remarkably fun time at the Star Wars convention we attended together back in 2010. I think our best time was participating in an incredibly fast paced scavenger hunt. We didn't win, but our enthusiasm was infectious!
I am trying my best to live up to the title with my youngest niece and nephew, Ben and Morgan, who are now 8. It's tough. I live 500 miles from them. We see each other no more than twice a year. And if you take away their "early years" during which they don't have strong memories, I've been batting cancer for half of their lives. I haven't always had the ability to be fun.
I love to chat with Ben about Star Wars and how Jedi craft their Lightsabers. I gave him some special action figures. Morgan and I chat about anything and everything. I loved playing with her in the pool on vacation this summer. She seems to be very tuned in to my disease and shows great concern for my health. That, that breaks my heart.
Distance is my hurdle. I'm committed to somehow breaking through that barrier so they can learn about me as an uncle. Maybe they can even see me as their Uncle Fun someday.
As I was contemplating this writing, my thoughts wandered away from Uncle Fun and toward my other uncles. These men continue to serve as examples of not only great uncles, but also great, loving, and caring fathers. Dad passed away just before my first cancer diagnosis, and I now look to these men. I wonder if I can ever live up to their example.
Thank you for your guidance.
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