10 yearsPosted: June 15, 2011
Dear Uncle Dale,
It’s been 10 years. I miss you a lot, think of you daily and talk of you fondly (even when it’s describing your bloody-mindedness). You were one of the coolest, most sincere people I’ve ever known and still are one of the most important people in my life.
You introduced me to new/old music and taught me the art of haggling (and I even got kind of good at it even though I don’t have the wheelchair card to play). You praised my printing and drawings, then my handwriting and paintings, then my writing and art.
From your wheelchair you coached me on how to dive; the very act that landed you in said chair. From there I learned back-flips and rolling and tumbling of all sorts. I will take it all to my grave.
You taught me about vulnerability and strength and friendship. That everyone deserves a friend, no matter their faults or circumstances. That our limitations make us no less lovable, just more difficult to understand by those unwilling to scratch the surface and that we have to put our very selves on the line most of the time in order to be happy. And that that’s going to hurt, but it’s ok because the ones that see you through to the end will be worth it.
You did understand, though. “So dark for someone with such a bright smile” were your words, I think. You saw through me, and saw the dark and didn’t judge. You taught me authenticity.
You were there when I was 18 and pregnant and didn’t know who else to go to. You were the first person I told. I can’t think of a day in my life when I didn’t trust you. You and Aunt Judy inspired me to ensure that my children were surrounded by a host of cool adult people with whom they could make friends and trust on their own terms as well. And they have that and are amazing people for it.
Some days I wish I could be small again and refusing your whisker rubs to my cheeks or you correcting the way I connected my cursive Ees to the Esses, but mostly I’m just so glad you were there.
I wouldn’t be me without you.