I was only eight-years-old at the time and I thought that my sister and I were just visiting South Carolina for a vacation. But when we didn't fly home and my mother and brother drove down from Massachusetts to join us a few days later, I knew that my life was about to change, forever.
Those were the most tumultuous days of my life. But you were solid ground. You made us feel safe and secure and welcome. You helped us to start over again. You showered us with your love and hospitality. You showed us, through your example, how a husband should cherish his wife and family, unconditionally.
Everyone has a story about you and just about everyone will say that you are the most amazing man that they have ever had the privilege of meeting. Children adored you. Adults did, too. You were kind and gentle and patient. You were humble and soft spoken. You had an incredible gift of making everyone feel important and special. And whatever you had happening in your own life, would be put on hold if someone needed your help.
Whenever you would talk with people, you were never distracted. You were always present in the moment. You are who I strive every day to be more like.
You were honest and respectful. You brought laughter in to all situations. You worked so hard and were motivated. You would stand up for people who couldn't stand up for themselves. You defended my family as if we your very own. You had an innate sense of knowing when to lend advice or support, a gentle ear, or a shoulder to cry on.
You saw the good in everything and in everybody. Even though you were given a terminal diagnosis, you never stopped trying. You lived each day to the fullest and you inspired everyone around you to do the same. And up until the very end, you kept your sense of humor. This past weekend, when my mother was visiting and she asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?" you gently laughed and said, "You could trade places with me."
There is little doubt that you are the most successful man I have ever met. But what defines success? Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,
"To laugh often and much;Your daughter, Margaret, called me at sunrise to tell me that you left us at 2:45 this morning.
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded."
But you haven't really left us. You'll never leave us. You'll always be a part of us. When I hugged you tightly last month and told you, through my tears, that I love you, you smiled and warmly said, "I know, Dear. I know you, do. Thank you for that. " If I'd had more control over my emotions, I would have said, "No. Thank you."
Thank you for taking us in and making us feel like a part of your family.
Thank you for looking out for me, and my siblings, as we grew up.
Thank you for taking me pony shopping when I was nine-years-old in your yellow MGB.
Thank you for being a shining example of what I should look for in a husband.
Thank you for being my advocate and friend.
No one lives forever.
But Uncle Bill ... you will forever live in my heart.
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, he would not have survived for as long as he had.
In recent months, the highlight of my conversations with Uncle Bill surrounded how much money we have raised to fight this dreaded disease. So to all of you who have generously donated to the various events that I have participated in this year, my most sincere thanks for helping to bring joy to one of my favorite people in the world.