Uncle Tommy died.
He is the youngest brother of my father, and I always thought his life and my dad's were very different. Now I wonder.
I went to West Virginia for the funeral, and was surprised to find that Uncle Tommy lived in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. In the hills of West Virginia, you can see the veins of coal laid bare in the mountain side that was cut away to make room for the road. Uncle Tommy mined that coal. My dad, on the other hand, went into the Air Force and moved to Michigan to pursue his extensive law enforcement career.
You know that guy that everyone in town knows and loves? That guy that's at EVERY church event, helping out however he can? You know that gray-haired dude that's the usher, and the video guy and the one who makes sure his grand kids have whatever they need? That's my Dad. That's Uncle Tommy, too. They both are exactly that guy.
Uncle Tommy is the guy that would call me out of the blue, just to shoot the breeze, because we both have February birthdays, and that makes us special. I didn't have to do or be anything special for Uncle Tommy to love me. I just had to let him.
Letting someone love you is hard sometimes. Sometimes it means that you have to be willing to accept that they can only love you the way they know how. You have to be willing to accept them the way they are, not how you think they should be. Dads aren't perfect. Sometimes dads make you furious when they...well, when they're just trying to be your dad! They try to help, and you feel like they think you're too dumb to figure stuff out yourself. Really, they just want to love you. Sometimes they say what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear and it lights your fire! But again, they just love you.
And sometimes they die.
My heart goes out to my cousins, Tommy and Tammy. I love you guys a ton, and I know your dad wasn't perfect, either. You don't have to agree with his choices, but I know he loves you. He's your dad.
My dad buried his baby brother on Tuesday, then celebrated his 70th birthday on Friday. It's been a hard week for him. My prayer for my dad is that he will receive peace and the knowledge that his brother rests in the arms of his Creator. Uncle Tommy was proud to be a Knight of Columbus, and now he gets his chance to guard the throne of the Savior.
As for my Dad, Happy Birthday, Dad, I love you. I hope I have you around to bug the crap out of for a really REALLY long time! I know you love me. I'm here when you need me. It's all good.