I got a call yesterday morning that my uncle Bill passed away in his sleep early Saturday morning. He was only 60. I am so sad for my aunt and my cousins. My one cousin and his wife just had their first baby 6 months ago so Bill was newly a grandpa. He would have been an awesome grandpa too, because he was such an awesome uncle.
He lived far away from us growing up, but whenever we visited them or they came into town we always had such a great time. Uncle Bill was Greek to the core. My family actually refers to him as Bill the Greek because I have another uncle Bill as well, so that was the way to define who you were talking about! He was very talkative and funny, the type that you almost can't get to ever shut up. He was always very active with us kids. I have a huge family on that side, there are now 24 (soon to be 25) grandchildren, and him and another of my uncles were always the ones to round up the kids and keep us occupied when we would start to get bored at family events. He took us to baseball games when we visited with them in Seattle. I remember one tim in the late 80's when the Mariners were horrible. Uncle Bill had brought paper bags with the eyes cut out and when the Mariners started losing he made us kids wear them. So there we sat, this long row of kids all wearing paper bags over their faces!!
When I was 16 and my cousin was learning to drive Uncle Bill let the two of us take his pick-up out around their neighborhood to practice driving stick-shift. He was the first person to really show me how to do it. I absolutely love driving standard vehicles, thanks to his letting me practically destroy the clutch on his truck!
5 years ago I met up with my Uncle Bill and my aunt at my moms winter home. We decided to go down to Mexico for the day. On our way back accross the boarder Bill was detained because he had let his green card expire. It was the first I knew he had never become a US citizen. Anyway...my poor aunt. We were all standing around the fence back in the US waiting for him and wondering what kind of sweet talking and run around he was giving the boarder partrol. After almost an hour he came trotting towards us, huge smile on his face, telling us what a nice talk he had with the boarder patrol. My aunt looked ready to kill him!!!
When we bought our car last week the sales guy had an accent really similar to Bill's. He reminded me of him and I told him so. The sales guy was from North Africa, but he was joking around saying "We're all related over there, really. We're all brothers and cousins!" He reminded me so much of uncle Bill telling us a story and then saying, "No, really!!!"
He was always the life of the party at family reunions and gatherings. His life and presence will be keenly missed. He always told me I was his favorite niece, and although I think he said that to all of us, it really made me feel special.
I love you Uncle Bill. Thanks for so many great memories.