October 25, 2017
On Monday, at 11:33pm, Uncle Harry passed away. He was your grandpa’s last surviving sibling and a doppelgänger for him if ever there was one. It marks the end of a generation in our family and leaves us all a bit worse for it. He will be missed dearly.
I was here just a couple of weeks ago and managed to steal away for 30 minutes to see him one last time. I have tried for years to spend some time with him, but always missed him on my trips. His calendar was busier at 75 than mine was at 40. Though he was old, he would let you know it.
Uncle Harry was something special. He always had this special little smile on his face when I saw him, like he had a secret that just he knew. When I last saw him, he wasn’t the same as he had always been, but the glint of that man was there, just below the surface. He was always himself, no matter what.
But that smile. It has taken me my whole damn life to know what that smile was all about. You see, it’s clear to me now that Uncle Harry knew something special and he kept that secret in plain sight. Let me tell you his secret — he would have wanted you to know it.
Uncle Harry blazed his own trail. He was as stylish as he was charming. He was as happy as he was caring. He was dedicated to the end. For as long as I can remember back, Uncle Harry smoked almost as religiously as he practiced his faith. He was a snappy dresser and the center of the party, no matter where or when. He had his morning routine of calisthenics and many other rituals. He was all those things, as long as he could, without effort or consideration. He was never owned by them, but owned them fully.
Uncle Harry knew that having everything wasn’t that hard part, he seemed to have accomplished that quite early in life. It’s keeping up that’s hard, especially if you do it all on your own. There’s no greater testament to this than his amazing children, grand children, and great grand children. They’re the living embodiment of his spirt and they make us all look bad doing it. Damn Canadians :)
The secret was that nothing is forever, but every day is another chance to do the best with what you have and to learn something new from what you’ve already taken for granted. It’s no small irony that in the winter of life, he showed us all how resilient the most important moments in life are. We were all drawn to him for that last bit of love and inspiration.
Tomorrow we’ll return his body to the earth, but not his spirit. That will live on forever, in all of us. I am most sad that you’ll never get to meet him in person, son. I’ll never be him, but I’ll be sure to leave you everything that matters and nothing else.
The secret is out of the bag. You don’t need everything, you already have it. Don’t let tomorrow catch you by surprise.
Rest In Peace, Uncle Harry.