Uncle Bill

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Its taken me a while to be able to write this.... mostly because I just don't know how to put into words how much a part of my life and heart Uncle Bill is/was.  Uncle Bill passed away from cancer last week and his funeral was today.  It sucks being so far from home, so far from family, and not being able to say good bye, to grieve, and to celebrate his homecoming with those who loved him as much as I did. 

God is wonderful in how he works.... some people say that God doesn't really bother with the small details of our lives.  However, I beg to differ.... I believe God does care about every aspect of our life.  A prime example of this involves Uncle Bill.  When we were home this past Thanksgiving, we got to see Uncle Bill several times.  This was before we knew he had cancer... he was having some tests done in Tulsa, so he stayed with us at Mom & Dad's the night before.  It was so good to see him and to talk with him.  A few weeks later, we were still in Tulsa (thanks to a delayed flight, causing us to stay an extra day-- coincidince?  or God!), only Uncle Bill had officially been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  We got to see him the day after (I think) he was diagnosed.  We sat on the couch at mom & dads... it was pretty unreal to me.  Uncle Bill was talking about his treatment options, and how his conservative, country church had laid hands on him in prayer at Sunday's service-- a first for them!  He looked at us (sean & I) and said "You know, I'm really pretty ok with this.  It's everyone else who is not ok with it."  Unlce Bill loved the Lord.  Uncle Bill loved life.  He loved his family, his girls, his wife, shrimp cocktail and "Its A Wonderful Life."  He loved so much....

I have so many good stories and memories of Uncle Bill.... it all goes back to 1989, when he tried to steal my brand new baby brother...... My baby brother was born VERY premature and was in the NICU for a really long time.  however, once he was out of the hospital he still had to have a heart monitor attached to him for a long time.  our very first Sunday David went to church, Uncle Bill and his then-wife, Dana decided to take David out.  They took him shopping or something (a tiny premie baby!) and bought him a huge stuffed animal.  My sister and I, being the good, overprotective second and third moms to David were so upset!  But Uncle Bill brought him back in one piece, so we decided he was ok.  There was not a time in my life since then that Uncle Bill has not been a part of. 

In high school, when I started dating, Uncle Bill gave me $0.35.... we didn't have cell phones then people!  He gave me a quarter and a dime and told me to call him if any boy ever disrespected me.  He said he'd hide the body so nobody would ever know.  :-)  (Maybe I should have taken him up on this offer back then!)

When I brought Sean home to meet my parents for the first time, I took him upstairs to the third floor..... what did we find?  Uncle Bill and David had ALLLLLLLLL of Uncle Bill's security cameras and stuff spread out all over the living room floor!  They were plotting where to set up security cameras to check this new guy out!!  Uncle Bill never called Sean by his real name while we were dating.  "Its easier to kill him" if he hurt me if he doesn't call him by his real name, ya know.  :-)  Seriously, Uncle Bill did not call Sean "Sean" until our wedding day!  You should have seen Sean's face when Uncle Bill finally welcomed him to the family that day.  

One of my favorite memories of Uncle Bill is when we would meet him in Muskogee (when Mom & Dad were living in Wagoner) and eat at Red Lobster.  This man knew how to savor a shrimp cocktail.  He would take a shrimp, dip its tail in the cocktail sauce, then take a bite while closing his eyes and savoring every second of its flavor... all the while making these "MMmmm.... Mmmmmm... mmmmmm" noises!  It was so funny to watch!  I tried to think of a way to send a shrimp cocktail to the funeral home in his honor, but just couldn't figure out the logistics.  Its just as well, thought, as I am sure Uncle Bill's first feast in heaven will be shrimp cocktail and Lobster.

Uncle Bill LOVED the movie, "Its A Wonderful Life."  He could quote every line, tell you every bit of trivia related to the movie-- everything.  One of my favorite things about Uncle Bill-- he would tell you he loves your dress/shirt/outfit just to see if you answer his compliment the right way.... what is the right way, you ask?  Allow me to demonstrate:

UB: Sheyenne, I love your dress.
S: What?  This old thing?  I only wear it when I don't care how I look.

And you had to have that sweet, girly intonation in your voice like the girl did in the movie.  its wonderful.  I am a better woman for learning that line.  :-)

Uncle Bill was not a fan of big earrings.  In fact, whenever his girls or I would wear big earrings, it was always sure to get a rise out him.  9 times out of 10, whenever I wore big earrings, it was to evoke a comment from him.

Uncle Bill wrote his won eulogy for his funeral.  My dad said he expected that Bill would have been pleased with it.  Uncle Bill chose his own music, too.... the songs he chose for his funeral were:
- Victory in Jesus
- I Can ONly Imagine
- What A Wonderful World
- Spirit in the Sky (yes, that song!)

My brother was able to fly from Chicago to Tulsa just for his funeral today.  They had an open mic time and David told one of his fave stories about Uncle Bill.... every year for David's Birthday, dad and Uncle Bill would take Dave and some of his friends camping.  One year, they were camping and all the boys were dressed up in their camo.... they were playing hide-n-go-seek.... more than an hour had passed and everyone had been found except for Bill.... when they finally found him, he was asleep under a tree!!

Its hard to be half way across the country and realize that Uncle Bill is not down at the River in Oklahoma.  Its hard to realize that I won't see him next time I go home.  Almost every day I have woken up and smiled at the thought of a new memory of Uncle Bill.  He was my dad's best friend.  The kinship and deep connection that they shared is unlike anything I have ever seen.  Every year they worked for hours and hours to make the best chili they could for Uncle Bill's work's chili cookoff.  I don't remember if they won, but they sure did make some good chili!  Uncle Bill was a wonderful friend, full of life, laughter, love and faith.  You couldn't help but laugh when you were around him.  I am SO thankful for the faith and assurance that I have in Christ that lets me know that I will, without a shadow of a doubt, see Uncle Bill again.

I miss you, Uncle Bill, and I am so thankful you were in my life for as long as you were.  You have left an eternal imprint on my heart.  You will be greatly missed.

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3 Lovely Words

  1. brought a tear to my eye. what a great tribute to what was obviously a wonderful and important part of your life. i will be praying for you during this time. :)

  2. I am so sorry for your loss Shey.

  3. This truly is a great tribute to a man that meant so much to you, and I'm sure to others as well.


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