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Growing up, I had a special relationship with my Uncle Brian. Many people had a special relationship with him; he was the type of person who made you feel like you were his best friend. He had a belly laugh that was more like a giggle than a laugh, and it would go on and on. He was the biggest fan at our basketball games, cheering louder than all the others, telling us to shoot more, telling the referees to think a bit more about the call and keeping his own set of stats at each game. He was our farm’s most dedicated employee, even though he insisted on taking his lunch break during Days of Our Lives. He was the best with phone messages because not only did he take the message, he reminded you to call them back until you did. Many people have great memories of my uncle Brian.
Brian also had Down’s Syndrome.
When he passed away, the entire family gathered in his hospital room while he was dying, and though he was basically unresponsive, we wanted to be there. When I arrived, he woke up, gave me the biggest smile, which let me know he was waiting for me and was glad I arrived, then went back to sleep. To this day, that is the best smile I have ever received.
At Brian’s funeral, some of the comments made by friends and family were:
“I am so proud to have him as my uncle.”
“Brian was a true friend to me, and I am a better person because of Brian.”
“The world would be a better place if we were all a little bit more like Brian.”
Because his life impacted us all so much and we had such fun memories, at his funeral each of his eight nieces and nephews gave a short tribute to him. We took those tributes and put them in a Heritage Makers book.
A few years ago, I was traveling home from a business trip and my discussion with the lady sitting beside me turned to Brian. I happened to have his book with me in my carry-on bag, and when I showed her the book she said, “Oh, I’m sure he loved it!” That phrase has always stayed with me, because if anyone would have loved a book written entirely about him, with all the funny stories and memories, it would have been Brian. She’s right, he would have loved it. Sadly, we didn’t think to write it until after he passed away.
This was a lesson to me, and should be to all of us. May we take the time now, before it’s too late, to let our loved ones know we love them, why we love them, and that their lives are important to us, while they are with us, so they can enjoy it as well. Whether it’s a tribute or help to someone to write their life story…whatever format we choose to write…the book is something that says, “Your life was significant, and we want your life to be remembered for generations to come.”
I’m excited for the day when my children start telling people stories about “Our Great Uncle Brian.”