fdc013jv - September 12, 2016
A man with vision is seldom swayed by tragedy or opinion.
Christmas Eve found me in a strange place this year. While most people were spending time with family and doing that last minute gift shopping that I have come to know so well, I was on a small hill in Donnelsville, Ohio.
It was the local cemetery.
A small graveyard hidden away on a quiet back road for a tiny village. Last I checked the population was about 300 people. That cemetery has a single road going up one side of the hill, and coming down the other.
It is…a special place to me.
I have two uncles buried here.
One of them was buried the year after I was born. He died of a supposed drug overdose. My family took stones from the local Donnelsville creek and handmade his tombstone out of them. It is a unique thing in that place. When it came time to choose a middle name for me, my mother chose his name.
I did not know him.
The other uncle has a newer tombstone, only a year and a half old. I watched his slow 10 month decline, from a strong energetic soul to lying in a hospital bed holding on for dear life, unable to speak.
The effects of cancer.
He is the reason I am here on this Christmas Eve.
This man was not just my uncle. Only 10 years my senior, he was also one of my best friends.
He taught me a lot.
He was not the kind of teacher that you might expect. He liked to laugh and work on cars. He quoted Napolean Dynomite and was passionate about fantasy football.
He taught through action.
He was the kind of person that was fun to be around, that people gravitated towards, and he had the amazing ability to treat everyone as though they were his best friend.
I stopped playing fantasy football after he died.
At his funeral there were hundreds of people. They could not all fit into the small church. It was a sad day.
He was a die-hard Chicago Bears fan. On his tombstone they had the words