Uncle Bill has been on my mind all week.
This might seem odd considering I don’t actually have a real Uncle Bill.
Though, it turns out, we all do.
You might remember last week’s column.
I shared the story at the request of my former colleague, Tim. He’d lost his 89-year-old Uncle Bill.
Uncle Bill was a man who influenced my friend in so many ways.
“Don’t send flowers,” was the idea.
In lieu of flowers, Tim wanted you to send yourself.
He wanted you to reach out to someone who had a major impact on your life.
“Who is your Uncle Bill?” Tim challenged me.
Who is that person who has had such a big influence on you and needs to know it?
A face immediately popped into my mind.
“Couldn’t be him,” I said to myself. “Has to be him,” I replied.
And so it was. It is.
It had to be my brother, Mark. He’s only 15 months older than me.
“Markanddaryn,” used to roll off our parents’ tongues as one word.
Thing is, as adults, we’re not nearly as close as we once were.
Is it a brother-sister thing? Is it living on opposite sides of the country? Or is it I’m just not someone he likes being around?
Do you have that person, Dear Reader?
Someone who was so special at one stage, tet, right now they’re not around much.
Maybe you just don’t click like you used to.
Uncle Bill made me realize that’s no reason not to reach out.
Rather, it is the best reason to reach out.
My brother is in me every single day.
He had to know that.
Out came the fancy stationery.
Nothing says, “I care,” like skipping the yellow legal pad.
Even if it’s just a box of folded notes from the corner drug store.
My feelings and gratitude came pouring out.
For being the best brother on South Gale Drive where we grew up.
For teasing me.
For making me stronger.
And, at the same time, making it clear that no kid on that block dare mess with me.
For teaching me the trick to stop sucking my thumb was simply falling asleep with my hands tucked under my legs.
For memorizing just about every line of “Bewitched,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Flintstones.”
For the precious times he rode me around on the back half of the banana seat of his purple Schwinn bicycle.
Leaning against his extra tall sissy bar, I felt more royal than the world’s fanciest princess.
To have a brother who claims you is to know you have a place in this world.
Where does that go when you grow up?
How and when did Markanddaryn become Mark and Daryn?
I’ve thought about that a lot.
The Uncle Bill challenge made me stop.
How, when and why doesn’t matter.
The letter does.
It went in the mail today.
Thank you, Tim.
Thank you, Uncle Bill.
Thank you, Brother.
Who is your special person? Who needs to hear from you?
You know what Uncle Bill would say you need to go do.