What Uncle Jack Taught Me

This morning, I was devastated to learn that after a four-week stay in the ICU, my “Uncle” Jack had suffered too many surgical complications, and he passed away. Though I am glad he is no longer in pain, I am heartbroken to lose a man who played such a crucial role in my life. 

Jack was one of the most vivacious, caring, comical, and easygoing men I have ever met, and he always had a big smile on his heavily-bearded face. I remember how he and I shared a clumsiness and how offended I would get growing up if someone (usually my older brother) called me “Uncle Jack” after a spill or a fall. I remember his deep, deep country voice, and how he always told me to “be careful” when saying goodbye. I remember his scruffy beard and how I refused to give him hugs and kisses as a child because it scratched me. I have so many wonderful memories of this man, but I think as I reflect on what he meant to me in life, the most important lesson he taught me was this:
Family is greater than blood. 
You see, my “Uncle” Jack was not really my uncle at all. He was my father’s best childhood friend who took on that role when I was very young due to some strained relationships with my actual extended family. He had no biological children of his own, so he took a very active role in our lives. He was there for birthdays, graduations, holidays, major school events, and just because he and his wife, Judy, wanted to be there. When we came back from a vacation and our house was full of fleas, we loaded up and headed out to stay at Jack and Judy’s house. When a birthday came around, I could always be guaranteed I would get a confetti-filled birthday card full of cash that reflected my new age. (This tradition has been continued with my own children, and I think they get more excited for that money than even I did.) When making seating arrangements at my wedding, Jack and Judy sat at the family table. It wasn’t even a conversation. They are family. They are part of us.
 Holding newborn Carter
Jack, I hope heaven has an endless buffet of margaritas, guacamole, and Arkansas barbecue waiting for you. I hope you have your bare feet up in a recliner, watching your Hogs kick some tail on a big-screen TV, and I hope you have not a care in the world. I pray you share your big, billowing, infectious laugh with everyone up there, and I hope you know how much the “Wadesy” family loves and cherishes you. 
Thank you, Jack, for loving us the way you did. You were an absolute treasure to us all and will never be forgotten.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: