“Doll you’re beautiful” were the first words I always heard whenever I saw my uncle. Followed by the great big grin and huge hug that made you feel like there was no one else on earth as special as you. That was my uncle! He was the best! As a child and throughout most of my adult life I had little self-confidence. I never felt pretty. I always felt awkward. I rarely felt like I fit in. Ever. Then my Uncle would come to town and for the next few hours, I was a star. He made me feel like a princess. He made me feel like I was THE most beautiful and special thing in the world. Now understand he would tell my sister the exact same think but I didn’t care. It just meant that we were both beautifully special.
My uncle loved me. I could see it in his eyes and in his smile. I could feel it in his hugs. His love was safe and he made me feel safe. He spent time with me and took me on adventures. He made memories with me. Oh my gosh there are so many memories.
He took me on my very first trip to Disney World. I could write a book. Growing up he owned an amusement park in my hometown. There were days when we were with him that our “daycare” was that entire amusement park. He would open up the arcade for my sister and me and let us loose to play as many video games as we wanted. We had hoards and hoards of carnival size stuffed animals. One was NEVER enough with Uncle Terry. It was always like that with him. His heart was big. He was so incredibly generous and loved to give.
There were times when he came to visit that he would put my sister and me in his newest convertible, turn the music up loud and take us movie marathoning. Movie marathons were so much fun. He would pick two movies at two different theaters and take us to see both while filling us up on soda, candy and popcorn. I specifically remember seeing Annie and E.T. on one visit and The Karate Kid and Ghostbusters on another. We would laugh and sing and it was amazing! He loved the things we loved. He knew about the things we liked. He knew how to get on our level. He loved spending time with us and it showed.
My Uncle has spent the last years of his life with a disease that took away his ability to communicate. The picture of the two of us was taken in the fall of 2008. I had gone home for the weekend to watch my cousin play football and one of my sweetest memories of that weekend was riding in my convertible with the top down with my Uncle Terry. He couldn’t say a lot but he made sure I knew that he loved me and that he was proud of me. I will never forget the specialness of that hour and half in the car with him.
In life, we all have those who teach us things. My uncle taught me to love life. To be generous and to love. To experience the beauty in the world and not take things for granted. You know at 38 there are not many people in my life you have not let me down. Who have never hurt me but I can say that about my uncle. I know he was not perfect and had his fare share of regrets and mistakes but to me, he was the best! He was generous and kind. He was fun and full of spirit. But most of all, he loved me.