I've written that Uncle Bill is our son William's namesake, in large part, because when my parents were going through their divorce, Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill turned their home in to a safe haven for my family.
I've written that although Uncle Bill was diagnosed with cancer almost five years ago, and he was told that he only had three-months to live, he has surpassed all of his doctors expectations. In fact, of all the patients that he was in clinical trials with for various medications, Uncle Bill was the only one that survived.
I've written that he believes he can do anything that he puts his mind to, so long as it is on his 'to do' list. Soon after he was diagnosed with cancer, Uncle Bill visited a hypnotist to help him get his mind around the disease that was plaguing his body. Shortly after that, Margaret tasked her father with building her a new house. Which he built. He then planted a vineyard with his grandchildren - in hopes that the money generated from grape sales, will help fund their college educations and give them a jump start on life.
And then he did a whole lot of other things.
Different projects and tasks to keep his mind busy and his body going.
Although he has Stage IV cancer and was in the midst of treatment, Uncle Bill committed to being at the finish line when his daughter Margaret completed her first marathon. Although he had broken his hip in December, he climbed aboard a plane, flew 3,000 miles across the country (and back again) - took a cab - a train - and a bus so he could be there.
He was at the finish line with the biggest smile I have ever seen and not just because his daughter had successfully completed 26.2 miles, but because she was on a cancer crusade that raised almost $15,000.00 for research - treatment - outreach and education.
Last night my cousin Margaret called and for two hours, we talked about her dad. We talked about the flowers that he would bring to his daughters on Valentine's Day when they were teenagers in school - and .... so much more.
Uncle Bill has an extraordinary gift for making people feel special.
He genuinely listens and is interested in children. He has a deep compassion for those who are down on their luck. He has a talent, unlike anyone I have ever met in my entire life, to make you feel like you are important. When you are with him - he makes you believe that you are the most valuable person in the world. He makes you believe in yourself.
And he is able to do all this, because he sincerely believes in you.
Jim has been asking my mother for years to get married. But it wasn't until recently, that my Mom finally said yes. Two weeks ago today, Mom and Jim drove out to visit my Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill for a visit and while they were there, Mom decided that everyone needed a mood-booster.
Because my Uncle Bill is such a hopeless romantic, and because he has been such a pillar of strength for my family, and because my mother apparently had a marriage license she was carrying around in her pocketbook (!!), she and Jim decided to tie the knot, right then and there. With my Aunt Grace officiating the wedding ceremony and my Uncle Bill serving as a witness.
It was just the four of them.
Two of them are sisters.
Three of them have known each other for the past 70 years.
Four of them are now married couples.
All of them are best friends.
It was incredibly special day for everyone involved.
(My Gracie with her namesake, my Aunt Grace)
When people ask me why I would complete a 60-mile walk when my toenails still haven't healed from a marathon I completed three months ago, or how I have the courage to keep reaching out and asking for donations, or why, during dire economic times, I would put my own money out for fund raising events (when my husband is trying to spend it all on a start-up business), I tell them, "It's easy to do when I think of what the people I love have to go through."
If my Uncle Bill can fight as hard as he has, I can fight too.
One day, we will find a cure.
So. Who wants a bracelet?