This morning, I lost my uncle. Well, technically, he is my first cousin once removed. My mum's cousin. But to me, he has always been Uncle Bob.
Bob and his family lived an hour from us. We managed a get together about once a month, or every six weeks. It was always a weekend stay. To my benefit, he has three daughters so I always had cousins to hang out with when the parents were doing their parent things - visiting, chatting, reminiscing.
As families do, we grew apart when the kids grew up. His daughters moved out west. Bob became a part time snow-bird. Thanks to technology, we kept in touch via e-mail.
Bob was thrilled when he got his first copy of Crawford Connections, the family newsletter. Our occasional phone calls and emails were filled with me sharing what I had uncovered in my research. He was totally fascinated. And in awe when he was able to receive photos of his parents that he had never seen before.
Bob had battled cancer of various organs for more than 16 years. In the past couple of years, this worsened and he spent more and more time in Ontario. This allowed us to re-kindle our relationship.
I love my Uncle Bob. Always have. He was a brusque, tough-looking cop. He had quite a bark. And as a kid it certainly made me take notice and behave. But his bark was far worse than his bite. He was a big softie at heart, especially where kids and animals were concerned.
I often sit and smile as I think about my childhood/teenage visits with Bob. Being Scottish he had a deep connection to anyone with a Scottish accent. He didn't need to know them. He simply needed to hear them speak, and they were instantly a friend. He invited them home for a meal, much to the chagrin of my aunt.
I recall our family drives. In the days before seatbelts. Bob at the wheel. Dad in the passenger seat. One of us girls in the middle. Then my mum, my aunt and the other four kids in the back seat. My brother and Bob's youngest daughter rarely got a seat unless it was on someone's lap. Instead they stood in between the front seat and the back seat. For hours. No snacks. No dvds. No electronics. And they didn't dare misbehave or they were quickly chastised. Sometimes by their mother, sometimes by the other mother.
I have had the pleasure of re-connecting with Bob and with his girls over the past 18 months. I loved taking photos to show him. Recalling stories and memories with him. Sharing a laugh. I am so grateful to his daughters for allowing me to be a part of his journey. The cancer changed Bob, as it does. And yet, I still loved him. And was still able to enjoy him. These visits, too, will become fond memories in the years to come.
And now, the memories are all that we have left. Bob has gone to join his ancestors. My mum and dad included. There will be no resting in peace. There will be a big family gathering, a ceilidh of sorts, as his ancestors and forebears join together to meet him in the spirit world. It will be full of laughter. Full of love and full of all things Scottish.
Farewell, Scotty. I love you my pal.