Hearing bad news about a family member while I am so far away from home is one of my worst fears. This week, my Uncle Tom passed away suddenly from a heart attack. I don’t really know the best way to process this information, but because I can’t be with my family right now, I want to share with you one of my favorite Uncle Tom memories:
When my brother, Mike, and I were little, we would sometimes spend summer weeks with our Uncle Tom while my parents went on vacation by themselves (rude of them). We didn’t mind that my parents were away though because we always had fun when we were with Uncle Tom.
One summer day, Uncle Tom wanted to take me and Mike to the pool. For whatever reason, his swim club was closed when we arrived, so Uncle Tom cultivated a Plan B. He drove us to the nearest Hilton instead. Uncle Tom escorted us straight through the lobby of the Hilton and to the hotel’s pool. Because we were not Hilton residents, we did not have a room key to access the pool deck. However, there was an open notebook near the entrance of the pool that listed room numbers, and with his quick wit, Uncle Tom peeked at that list before telling the lifeguard on duty our “room number” and stating that his wife will be coming down shortly with the room key. I was so excited to join this acting expedition, but I think Mike almost peed his pants. The lifeguard let us into the pool area, no questions asked, and we swam for a while until my brother couldn’t take the pressure any longer. We eventually left the pool in fear of tarnishing his good conscious.
On our way out of the hotel, we must have made a wrong turn because we found ourselves, wrapped in our towels, with dripping wet bathing suits and squishy flip flops in the midst of a wedding reception.
I will always remember my Uncle Tom how he was on that day; adaptable, clever, and entertaining.
I only wish during the past couple of years, I spent more time with my Uncle Tom. He was a big part of my childhood, making the most delicious deep fried turkey on Thanksgiving (almost blowing the house up on numerous occasions) and always bringing the best dessert to Christmas Eve dinner. The week before I left for the Canary Islands, I had dinner with all of my Philadelphia relatives, including Uncle Tom. I sat next to my Uncle Tom, and we had intentional time to catch up after a busy 4 years of college with not too much time spent together. I’m lucky I had this moment, and I wish so much that it was not the last one.
Reach out to your loved ones you haven’t spoken to in a while. See how they are doing. Remind them you love them.
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