Yesterday my Uncle Tom died unexpectedly. Unfortunately, I have spent the majority of my life away from my extended family. But my Uncle Tom was one of the family members I hoped would always be at any family gathering I went to. Perhaps the fondest of all memories were the Fourth of Jooly celebrations at Uncle Tom and Aunt Kathy’s house. Up in the hills of Nebraska my family would set off some incredible fireworks from their property. Some of the years, Uncle Tom would have a big tank of helium and us younger kids would send big balloons with notes inside off into the distance.
His laugh was infectious. As a kid, if he laughed, I laughed. That’s just the kind of laugh that he had. He was also someone that cared very much about family. He clearly passed that onto my cousin Aaron, because he too is great at keeping our family connected, even if we only see each other about once a year or so. Losing Uncle Tom is a great loss for our family. And a unexpected one, too. I really wish I could go to his funeral, to hear the stories and wonderful memories of the man, but with my wife giving birth to our son any day now, that’s just not going to be a reality. I hope that the funeral can be a time where people will come together as family and friends, sharing wonderful memories of my uncle.