Lessons from Uncle Brian
Dear Uncle Brian,
Never could I have dreamed that I would be writing about this this soon. To be honest, I am surprised you are the first, and even though we didn’t know each other well, I am sorry that you are gone. But so happy that you lived.
You hear stories from people and their uncles and the things they got up to. What they learned from them, what they received. I never related until yesterday.
Even when I found out you were gone, I was angry at you for a very long time. For so many reasons.
And then we walked into your funeral service and so many people were there to see you. We were told that you were having three services across the country. That you had done so much for people and made such a difference to so many.
Between each joke about pubs was a story. The mischief you caused when you were ten. The spontaneous adventures through the English countryside that you usually led. Fishing mishaps and run-ins with the law. (We get it, it was a different time). There was a story for every moment. And each person remembered each detail like it was yesterday.
Yesterday at your funeral, I felt guilty at first. That I didn’t get to know you better while you were alive. Maybe there could have been some stories I could have shared with others yesterday. But then Black Sabbath played and I got it.
Just like the rest of the family you would not want us to feel guilt. We are too much about having a good time. And I quickly made peace with it.
The second emotion I felt was pride seeing how many people you could pack a room with, in death. The community who came from far and wide just to wish you well. The fact that you had three services across the country at the same time.
And then as I heard more about you and how you lived your life. I realised we had more in common than I thought and I felt gratitude.
In that moment you taught me the importance of living life on my own terms. And from what we were told you were the poster child for showing others the way to do it.
I learned something from my uncle. I am so grateful that you were and are my uncle.
You would have been pleased to hear that I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time during your funeral. In classic us fashion, we had to be inappropriate or break the tension. And playing Black Sabbath was a great way to do that.
In the wake, we danced and we laughed in the way we know best. It was fun to play niece and banter with my uncle’s friends as they reminisced about ‘back in the day’ and how old they feel.
Personally I have always loved community, but again it was the example that hit it home for me. I have always wanted to run from people. Never understanding why people wanted to get to know me. Why people want to keep me around. But in bringing us together you showed me what we have to offer as a family. Who we can get to be. You taught me that I want to stay. To build something. To embrace love and vulnerability.
Sat on the train home, I feel different from the Hannah that stepped on to the platform at Penzance just two days ago. It took you only a day to teach me a lifetime of skill.
Sat on the train home, I am more determined that ever that I take control of the reigns on my life and push through. That I live my life on my own terms.
Uncle Brian I am so thankful for you and all that you have taught me, and you had better be partying hard on the other side.
Lots of love,