I only knew my husband’s Uncle Chris for 2 ½ years, but I remember his leathery cheeks pulled up into a smile that burst with kindness. I first met him at Christmastime when Stephen took me to California to meet his family in 2014. Uncle Chris was Stephen’s Dad’s older brother who lived nearby and loved helping out and driving with us to the airport when we had to fly home.
A year after I met Uncle Chris, Stephen and I were engaged and the family put together a surprise bridal shower for us on New Years Day in 2016. That day we received the only card from him while I knew him, but I am so glad we kept it. He gave us an Amazon gift card (that we used to buy a Tiffany lamp), and he wrote us this message:
I’m thankful we traveled those five times out to California and we saw him multiple times while we were there; his grilling skills were tip-top, and my favorite was his prime rib he would cook for Christmas dinner.
A week after our wedding, we stopped by California during our honeymoon to have a second reception on the side of a mountain in a vineyard that Stephen’s Dad manages. Uncle Chris wandered amoung the family and enjoyed the dinner and comradery.
Uncle Chris would come over to greet us whenever we would arrive in town, and my last clear memory of him was the day we were leaving last Christmastime when he came over to say, “Good-bye!” in my in-law’s living room. We didn’t know it would be the last time we would see him on earth and that cancer would take him so quickly in June.
When we Skyped with the family on Easter Sunday, I remember seeing a fuzzy version of Uncle Chris on the screen as we told them we were going to have a baby! He seemed excited; because of Uncle Chris’ kindness, care for others, and generosity, we are giving our son the middle name of Christopher.
Uncle Chris would have loved the gathering we had in his honor as 300 people met in a piping hot community center in Calistoga, CA on July 15th to eat, talk about him, drink, and enjoy each other. During our visit to California, it was strange to not see Uncle Chris watching football, eating clam dip, or having him come to see us before he left, but we know he is in a better place now.
He will be missed, and I hope we see a little piece of him in our son’s smile.
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