Monday, June 10, 2013

A Life Well Lived

In just a few hours, we will gather to say goodbye to my Uncle Mike.  No one I've loved has ever died suddenly, so I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that he is gone.

"Mikey," as many of us called him, was proactive when it came to his health and well-being. He loved to exercise. He watched what he ate. He was the most disciplined person I have ever known and the youngest 66-year-old you can imagine.  I exercise regularly, but my motivation is to keep my ass from creeping down the back of my thighs whereas Mikey truly enjoyed the process.  He was an avid cyclist.  Loved snow skiing.  He swam.  He lifted weights. He'd been a dedicated runner.

Mikey didn't have children, but he had us -- nieces, nephews, family, lots of friends and a wife who was his partner in life, business, and without a doubt his best friend.  No one will miss him more than her.

My sister and I gathered photographs to best represent Mike's life at his memorial service.  Through these photos, one thing is evident: Mike's was a life well-lived.

A smiling, innocent boy with a skinned chin in a black-and-white school picture...  A tan, lean young man with haunted eyes earning two Purple Hearts in Vietnam....  Marrying his best girl....  Working....  Going to college.... Traveling the world....  Pursuing his passion for aviation....  Always working, reading, learning, and moving forward....  A quiet man....  An honest man....  A better man would be hard to find.

I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone -- never knew him to judge.  (I'd like to know how he managed that because personally, I've never had that kind of restraint.)  Mike never treated me like a kid.  He talked to me like I was his equal and always seemed amazed by my accomplishments, no matter how small.  That's a big damn deal to a kid and something I've treasured as an adult.

1947 - 2013

One of the things that I am most proud of is being able to make Mike laugh.  Where he was a quiet, reserved and classy guy, I'm pretty sure I was born without that filter most people have that keeps them from saying exactly what they think.  I think he and I appreciated each other's differences.

As disciplined as Mike was, he did allow himself a couple of indulgences -- fine, red wine and excellent Scotch.  Several years ago, I asked him to teach me to drink Scotch.  I joked that if I learned to drink it then he and I would have something to do when I visited him in the nursing home one day.  He obliged and shared his finest (and Mike had the good shit) Scotch whiskey with me.  I tried, but I never learned to fully appreciate this particular spirit.  (Thankfully, Hubs picked up my slack in this area.)

But, I can tell you one thing in absolute certainty.  At some point today, I will pour myself a couple of fingers of excellent Scotch and toast one of the finest men I have ever known.  Cheers, Uncle Mike!  You will be missed.

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Kris. I know he will be missed by all. I will raise my glass of wine to him later tonight and play like you and I are sitting on the beach in Turks & Caicos sipping together and celebrating his live well lived. My prayer for you today is peace, warmth, and love.