My blog is clearly about books, and I honestly try to keep personal blog type stuff off of my blog, but today I really feel led to talk a little about what’s been going on lately and about my uncle, who I think had a real book-worthy life.
I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that I’ve been out of town the past several days due to a death in the family. Long story short, my uncle was the victim of a shooting at a bar. A man was kicked out, became angry and retrieved a gun from his car, then returned to the bar to shoot the bouncer, an employee, and my uncle. Someone asked me earlier today if my uncle was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I like to believe he was in the right place at the right time. He was shot when he stepped in front of another employee as the shooter was pointing the gun at her. Because of my uncle, she is alive.
All weekend I met my uncle’s friends. I use the term “friends” here loosely, because these people were much more than friends. They were his family. I heard stories of how amazing my uncle was, how he was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back and his last dollar (and he really would), how he was such a giving, kind, wonderful person. These weren’t words from one or two close friends, but from every. single. person. And I talked to A LOT.
But I knew this of my uncle. I knew his giving and caring nature. And while I think these things of him, what I really remember him for is how COOL of a person he was. I remember him for all the things he did with his life. In the early 70s my uncle began his adventures. Someone asked him “Hey, do you want to do this?” and he replied “Yes.” Not a moment’s hesitation, he just jumped at the chance. That adventurous, brave, courageous spirit took him all the way to Saudi Arabia where he worked in various medical positions. He eventually started working for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The freakin Crown Prince, y’all! Who is now THE KING. A friend of my uncle’s made the comment “Do you think the king knows about his death? Someone should probably contact him to let him know what happened.” How many people can ask that question when a family member dies? I mean, c’mon…
As we were going through my uncle’s stuff over the weekend, it really hit me just how many amazing experience he’s had. Pictures from all over the world, trinkets and souvenirs from every place you can think of. He had visited all the places I sit around and day dream of. He had met so many people and done so many things, all I could ever do when he talked about it was sit in awe. He had a life few can even dare to imagine and even fewer will experience.
There’s something we can learn from every death, no matter how tragic, and that’s to look at the legacy that person left. My uncle left one that tells me to be adventurous. To look change in the eye and face it head on. To take chances, to live fully, to be courageous and stand up for what is right, good, and true.
His best friend, who has been like a brother to my uncle for nearly 50 years, spoke at his funeral and said something that has stuck with me these past few days. He said “He lived. Boy, did he live.”
I’m ready, Uncle Rocky. I’m ready to live.