A lesson about fathers that my uncle taught me

As a young girl growing up, my uncles were a vital part of my life. My mother is the middle child of seven siblings and she has always been close to her four brothers. Over the years, they’ve served as a continual source of love, support, protection and influence.

My parent’s divorced by the time I was seven years old, so my life had changed drastically from living in a home with my father to seeing him a couple weekends a month. My uncles helped fill that void in my heart.

My uncles and their families were a big part of our lives. Barbeques, camping, birthday parties, Halloween parties, Christmas, football games, amusement parks, driving down to Mexico in the summer etc. Our families just blended together seamlessly, and even more so once my mom became a single mother.

I lost one of those uncles last week and as I tend to my family and sit down at my computer to work, his face continues to drift into my mind. He loved me and nurtured me like I was one of his own. I have so many memories of him. He had the biggest heart of anyone I know. He was an amazing cook. He had the best smile. He was a rascal. Everyone knew if you were going to spend time with him, you were going to have fun.

I used to spend summers at his home so I could visit with my cousins, who were like my best friends. I’d sleep in the same bed as my cousin Diana, and every day her dad had a new adventure for us. Some days it was off-roading in his big black truck. Other days it was swimming in the river bottom during the summer. He taught me how to ride an ATV on man-made trails in the desert (I was terrified). He took us to the county fair every summer, as well as camping on the beach in Mexico, grilling lobsters and swimming in the Pacific from sun up to sun down.

It’s bittersweet, but my uncle and his life taught me one thing.

Fathers could lovingly exist with their children on a day to day basis and make the choice to be there.

My uncle’s love for his children was everything. He wanted to be with them. They wanted to be with him. He was never too busy for them. His children were his priority. 

Even as a young girl at the tender age of seven, I grasped this. It’s a lesson about fatherhood that stuck with me my entire life and it helped me when I chose to marry my husband. It also helped me work through issues I have with my own father. Thank you, tio, for teaching me this valuable lesson.

I love you. Rest in peace.

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