Tuesday, July 12, 2016

100 Days of Gratitude, Day 44 - Bob Whittle

William Robert Whittle, 1953-2016
My uncle Bob taught me important things about how to live and how to die.

In the 1960s, at his parents place at "The Lake" in rural Kentucky, he taught us nephews and nieces card tricks, practical jokes, and how to make trouble without getting into (too much) trouble.

In late 1979 and early 1980, he and his wife Paula looked after me when I was a lonely college freshman living near by.

In the late 1990s, I watched and learned as he left a job working for "the man" and started his own business.

In the 2000s, I became more aware of how he was a friend to all and a stranger to none, something I have tried (and failed) to emulate. I hope to do better with the parenting skills he taught me.

And then, in May, just a few weeks before he died, I was stunned to get an invitation from him to a lobster bake.  He knew he had only a short time to live and wanted to assemble friends and family  for one last party while he could still enjoy a good meal and conversation.  We assembled at the same "Lake" place where we spent so much time in the 1960s.  We ate an enormous amount of outstanding lobster while he regaled us with a tale of a practical joke he had played on his surgeon and the nurses a few days before.

And then, on June 15, he was gone.  He was only 62. But I feel lucky to have had him as my uncle, and as a role model, for any amount of time.  RIP, Uncle Bob.