My Uncle was an extremely kind, socially awkward genius who cared about two things in life – his family and sports. He never married, never had children. He treated us like we were his kids. Actually, to that point, at one time in our lives, he took my siblings and I in for an extended period of time so that we didn’t have to be placed in foster care. Family was everything to him.
His profession was accounting and his passion was sports. His superpower was analysis. Numbers always came easy to him. I think that’s why he liked accounting so much, everything had balance if he worked at it long enough. Where the majority of the population looked at a page of numbers and saw a headache, he looked and saw potential. Whether through accounting or through sports, numbers were always his answer.
Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Hockey, Horse Racing, Golf… you name it, he loved it. He loved studying sports. He analyzed statistics and he used them to create a pretty lucrative career for himself just from sports betting alone. I remember the day he told us he made his first million from betting, we presumed he was going to phone it in and sail off into the sunset. Nope. He easily made triple his accounting salary from sports betting every year and it never changed him. He got up every day at 6:00 am and went to his accounting job for 42 years.
He treated my siblings and I as though we were his own kids. Gave us lectures when we made stupid choices, purchased us things (wants and needs) just because he could, never forgot a birthday, Christmas or anniversary EVER. When we had all graduated from highschool and went on to University, he made it a point to visit each one of us every single year at least one time. He’d pull the regular parent move of just casually happening to find a toaster on sale, after only 12 hours earlier noticing I didn’t own a toaster. And well, ‘it’s here kid, so you might as well take it’, he’d say.
When he retired in 2017, he told us that it was his dream to watch an MLB game from every MLB Stadium and an NHL Game from every arena. And that’s what he set out to do. He’d spent the majority of the past two and a half years travelling across the continent, watching any and all sporting events he could get himself tickets to. He was, in the truest definition of the phrase, living his best life.
Yesterday my dad got some of the things from his home. Memorabilia he’d collected over the years, a watch collection (he loved his watches), things he’d held onto that he never told us about, and lots of pictures. Lots and lots of pictures of us kids. Pictures I don’t even remember taking. Pictures I didn’t even know existed. Graduation programs of each of us that he’d gone through and highlighted each of our names in.
My uncle will forever hold a special place in my heart. There was this one phrase that he always said to me, when I was 3, when I was 20, when I turned 30. Every time he saw me, he’d find some way to say ‘Give em hell, kid’, in the midst of our conversations. Actually, with respect to that, in 2015 I was working as a Communications Director for the World Championships. I had the ability to get tickets for someone, and, knowing that he’d be able to cross that off his bucketlist of tournaments to attend, I gave the tickets to him. I remember during the final, the place was packed to the highest capacity the Fire Marshall’s wold allow. I brought him up to the press box so that he could see the game with an unobstructed view. Canada ended up losing that game in over-time and morale sunk for 20,000+ people in about fifteen seconds. I told him that I had to head down to the scrum, gave him a hug and pointed out the staircase he’d need to use to exit. As I walked off to face an onslaught of journalists from around the world, not looking forward to what was coming, he laughed and said ‘You’ve got this. Give em hell, kid’.
That moment will forever stand out in my mind. I was about to get bullied by a group of journalists from around the world and he knew I could handle it with grace.
Now, as I see this extensive collection of photos of my siblings and I from over the years, a watch collection (that was literally the only valuable things he ever bought for himself) and some bits and bobs from his home, I’m reminded of how much of his life he spent doing things for others, rather than for himself. I remember how he bought the home he and his siblings grew up in and gifted it to his brother for a place to call home, again. I remember how he would drive four hours on a Saturday just to watch his great-nephew’s hockey game, to turn around and drive home.
In a world filled with selfish, hyper-consumer driven, unrelenting divisiveness, he was the glue that tied our family together. He was that shining halo to always see the brighter side, the softer side and that giving was far better than receiving.
Everyone grieves differently, I understand that. The majority of the family seems to fighting over who’s going to get his money. Not just his savings, but who’ll profit from the sale of his home, and the few possessions he owned. The rest of the family who isn’t fighting about money are all grossly disappointed and frustrated that we can’t have a Memorial Service for him due to the present health pandemic sweeping the globe. I honestly don’t care who takes his money. I just want to make sure that he’s remembered in the way that he deserves to be remembered.
He ALWAYS remembered each of us. And I think now more then ever, it’s important that we remember him in the way that he deserves. Since we can’t give him a proper Memorial right now, I’m not really sure what that looks like.
I think I’m going to see if I can get my hands on his list of stadiums and arenas he’s visited. I’m honestly not even sure if he made it to each of them or not. If he didn’t, though, I think it’d be a nice thing if we went for him.
Anyways, I guess we’ll continue to see how this unravels.
That’s all for now.