They say the best way to remember someone who has died is to do things they loved — to honor their memory by living life the way they did.
In the case of my Uncle Jim, that’ll be easy — he loved so many things.
Uncle Jim, who has an army of nieces and nephews looking up to him, is lovingly known as “UJ.” He gave each nephew and niece a unique nickname, a small reminder that even in a sea of cousins, we were special. My nickname? Cranky Mary, stemming from my days as a small child. But we don’t need to talk about that.
Of course, UJ will live on in the form of stories, pictures and toasts in his name. But what’s more is he’ll live on each time one of us does something he would have simply adored.
I’ll think of him every time I hike a mountain and catch a beautiful view. He’ll be beside me each time I ski down a slope that may be a bit too steep for me. Or, more likely, he’ll be in front of me paving the trail so I can follow in his ski tracks, something he did for several less-skilled skiers.
Every time I break out my now-rusty French, I’ll hear him helping me with grammar or pronunciation not because he had to, but because he loved French. And because he loved that I loved French.
From now on, any daisy I see will be a reminder that UJ isn’t so far, after all.
Once I’m finally able to adopt a rescue dog of my own, I’ll think of Sumo and Tara — his dogs who he affectionately referred to as his “kids.” And I’ll remember how lucky they were to be cared for by our UJ.
I know I’ll see signs of him in everyone and everything, from my best friend Andy to each new place I visit.
I’ve been sad and in pain for days on end, and I don’t think that will be over anytime soon. But as much as I miss him, I’m only encouraged to do the things he loved more often and with more meaning.
UJ, you’ll be sorely missed, not only by your army of nieces and nephews, but so many more.
For you, I’ll climb more mountains. I’ll ski more often. I’ll practice my French. I’ll seek out all the daisies and I’ll rescue all the dogs. And I’ll think of you all the time.
Merci et bon voyage, UJ.
This week, our coverage of the Chicago Teachers Union strike continues, this time showing how the strike has impacted Rogers Park residents.
In sports, the long-awaited basketball season is upon us — previews for both men’s and women’s teams are featured in this issue.
A&E includes coverage of the Chicago International Film Festival and in opinion, The Phoenix Editorial Board gives a little advice on how to live your best years in college.