Friday, June 1, 2012

11 Years

That's a long time right?

11 years?

And yet it honestly feels like just yesterday.

I grew up without my father in my life. Yet, I was fortunate enough to have one particular man in my life. He was the father of a very good friend whom I spent a lot of time with. I always felt, in many ways, he made up for the father I lacked. I think I even told my mom that when I got married, I would want him to walk me down the aisle. His wife was like my second mother...and still is. I call her my Auntie. His daughter, though we don't speak all that often and we don't call each other best friends, is like family. She was in my wedding and her daughter, that precious not so little girl, was my flower girl. I used to be a lot closer to the whole family....brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins - I considered all of them family.

But back to the main reason for my post. A few days ago (this post has actually taken me 3 or 4 days to write) marked the 11 year anniversary of the passing of this special man. In 8th grade we found out he had lung cancer. No one that close to me had ever had cancer so it was a tough thing for this 13 year old to comprehend. We didn't really have all that long anyway. It was only a few short months more before he was gone. But the memories...oh those precious memories...those will last forever.

Whenever my mom and her mom would go out, I would stay over at their house with my friend and him. Those are some sweet memories. He was a huge hard rock fan - Rolling Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, etc. They had a huge stereo in the den and he would crank up one of the classics and we would go crazy dancing around the house. He'd twirl us around, down the hallway, in the kitchen, and all through the house. Sometimes the volume would be up so loud that the items on the speakers would fall off. Such good times! Those impromptu dances throughout the house are some of my all time favorite memories. We could always get him to take us to Walgreen's for a late night candy run. He got us into an R-rated movie (which I subsequently got in MAJOR trouble for). He was always there, sitting in his recliner, watching his baseball or football game. We would tease him about being so skinny. He and my mom would battle over bowls of peanut butter cups. He was super intelligent and could kill us at a game of Balderdash. I loved game nights with them. So much fun and so much laughter. I loved being over there. He treated me just like a daughter.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. We knew he didn't have long but he spent his last days at home. I didn't get to see him that last day like my mom did and when she picked me up from my friend Stephanie's house all she said was that he was gone. We spent the rest of that afternoon with the family, me wrapped in Auntie's arms and my friend wrapped in my mom's. We were always like that when we were younger. We swapped moms. Kinda funny. We reminisced and laughed and spent time together which is what he would have wanted. His service was beautiful and heart breaking at the same time. It took a long while before I could sing "It Is Well With my Soul" without tearing up.

For my college graduation my mom made an amazing scrapbook of my life. Many pages were filled with specific people. On one particular page was a special note from my "Auntie", one of my favorite pictures of her, me, and that special man dancing together at a wedding. At the top, underneath a special piece of paper to make it look "other-worldly," was a note that said "We will dance again someday. Love, Uncle Bobby." It said something else too but that's the part that sticks out right now. When I saw it for the first time, the dam broke. Tears of appreciation, love, and simply missing him flowed down my face. It was so something I could hear him saying.

He was quite a special man and he gave his life to the Lord at a 'Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames' drama about a year before he passed. When he was baptized and the pastor asked for those that were close to him or felt they helped play a part in his salvation to stand, I think almost the entire congregation was standing. Uncle Bobby was a one of a kind man and I have no doubt that he looks down at his family and smiles as he watches his precious granddaughter grow into a beautiful young lady that is much like her mama. I imagine he is quite proud of the mother his daughter has become. I miss him a ton and absolutely cannot wait to dance with him again one day.

Until then, Uncle Bobby...