This is a rough one. This week, unexpectedly, my Uncle John died. If you know me, then you know at least something about him. He was like a brother, he was a friend, he was even like a father at times. He was my Uncle.
When I was nineteen I needed out of my hometown. I was overwhelmed by my impending adulthood, I was overwhelmed with the expectations vs the way I behaved. I needed out and I needed it fast.
I called him up. I had only met him maybe three times at that point, and asked if I could move in with him. He could’ve said no, he could’ve called my Dad and they could’ve kept me home. But that’s not Johnny Mac. Of course he let me live with him.
He always made me feel equal. Never made me feel like a kid, that I wasn’t welcome, that I didn’t belong. It was the first time I felt like someone really trusted me, and I trusted him. More than almost anyone. Still to this day.
He was all the things I want to be. Humble, a good friend and brother and uncle and husband. He didn’t worry. He always said, “It’s all kool and the gang.” He was happy, he was an expert at listening and making people feel heard and valid. He always made me feel like the person I was becoming was okay. And he was so fuckin’ funny. He could remember every movie line he’d ever heard. I think most of the time he spoke it was in quotes.
He loved talking about the time it snowed four feet while I was living with him. I’d never really seen snow like that before and he took me with him to shovel driveways around town. We worked in a cul-de-sac that had been plowed and all the snow was pushed into the middle into a giant mountain. I climbed to the top and dug a hole just big enough for me to fit in and crawled in. He looked for me, shouting and shouting until he saw my little feet sticking out. He couldn’t stop laughing. Every time he told the story he laughed. Somewhere in the world is a picture he took of me stuffed into that little cave.
His whole life he lived the way he wanted. He did what he wanted, he loved everyone he knew, he always gave out more love than any one person should possess.
Last summer he married the love of his life. As I grew up, every time I’d come see him he’d scold me for a new tattoo I got. Man, he hated my tattoos. Then met Sue, and the two of them were crazy about each other. They went and got tattoos.
How does something so beautiful like that happen so late in someone’s life, only to be taken away less than a year later? I just don’t get it. I saw him, looking like a wax version of himself in his casket and I just don’t get it.
All the plans we made, all the things we had, it’s all gone now. And I guess I just, I’m not ready. I don’t understand why it had to be him. Why did it have to be him? I thought I was going to have him until I was his age. I’m so afraid that I’ll forget. That he’ll fade away as I grow older, when I’m 60 and things have changed. He was supposed to see me become the person I’m going to become and it’s just not right.
Anyway, he’d call and tell me “It’s all good in Johnny-hood” so in honor of the man who half raised me to be the person I am now, I’m going to keep being the person he taught me to be. I’m going to write, and journal and do this dumbass blog. And this week, on my absolutely disgusting journey to feed myself edible food, I’m going to cook all my favorite foods he used to make for me.
Uncle John made a BOMB eggplant parmesan. I never like eggplant, but he begged me to just try it and he did not disappoint. He also used to make me these bagels that are essentially just a toasted bagel, a fat slice of tomato, and cheddar cheese broiled over top. Simple. His pancakes were amazing. I think he used lemon, we’ll find out. And he made tomato sauces that I think were from a can, but somehow they always tasted fresh.
I’m heartbroken. It’s fucked up. He was 61, in regular health. Its just not supposed to be like this. But it’s hard to not think of how wild his life was. He was so cool. He was a Harley rider for life. I loved hearing his stories about riding across the country on his bike. He was always up for a good time, always available for an adventure.
Bababooyow, Uncle J. You always inspired me, you always made me feel like I was okay. I love you and I miss you. Fuck, I don’t even know how much I miss you yet.
Peace and hair grease. I hope you’re poolside sippin’ Johnny Walker with Lennon.
Wish me luck this week.