My Uncle Bill was the most lively man you could have ever met. I don't usually use real names, but I want people to know him. There was not a single person who ever met him and didn't like him. Seriously. He was just that way. He embraced life. He thought it was worth living and he lived it to the fullest. He had adventures in his life most people, including myself, only dream of. He traveled to more places than I could possibly list. And he had stories from every last place. When he was right out of high school, Uncle Bill would get jobs here and there just to make enough money to go someplace. Once he saved a certain amount, he would pack up, and just go someplace. Once, he moved to Hawaii just to hang out on the beach. He did that until he ran out of money. Then he'd pack up and come back to the Cleveland area. He'd get another job and start the process all over. Even once he decided to "settle down" and take a job as a postal worker, he never stopped traveling. He would go on one or two trips a year to wherever he thought was an interesting place at the moment. He really enjoyed Switzerland. If I recall correctly, that's where he traveled to most. The last time he was in Switzerland was only about 5 years ago.
My uncle had a story for everything, but he was also great at listening. I think was part of what made him truly special. He didn't just listen to your story, he listened to your stories. It's one thing to be able to talk and talk and another to be able to sit and actually listen. And he remembered. He could remember people he met by stories they told him. He also would retell those stories as a way of passing along parts of history.
Uncle Bill was not one to live with the "what ifs". He also wasn't one to question the "why" in life. Things just were and he accepted them. Right now, if I stop to really think about his death, I have the "whys" and "what ifs". So I won't be thinking about his death. I'll be thinking about his full life. As I told my son, "We can be sad Uncle Bill is gone, but he lived such a full life. We need to be thankful that he was able to live such a great life for as long as he did." I'm hoping my dad will someday find comfort in this. I hope my dad will be able to find comfort in knowing how many lives Uncle Bill touched and how many people he helped along his journey. Death is sad for those left behind. We need to remember to keep celebrating the life he led.