technically, we're not even blood related to uncle jim. he was adopted by my dad's mom after his father passed away when he was a young boy (my grandma and his dad were married at the time). and uncle jim has always lived in a different state than us and honestly, we rarely got to see him. but uncle jim has never felt like anything but a very real uncle to me.
every birthday. every christmas. presents, gifts, cards. i always got something from him in the mail.
in fact, one of my most cherished gifts - a giant stuffed bear. maybe 3 feet tall or so? he sent it to me for christmas when i was 7. i still have that bear, and now gracie plays with it. i love that bear.
he had major heart surgery last year, after a very active and outdoorsy lifestyle. his love, my aunt hilda, passed away many years ago. it's just been him and my cousin shari for awhile. they've spent their time traveling in their monster motor home, fishing and camping and exploring their days away. since his heart surgery, he just didn't ever quite get back to normal.
this is one of those times in life when you wish you had done more. wish you had visited more, called or written or emailed more. made more of an effort. and for that reason, i am sad. i knew, for that reason alone, i had to make the trek to be at his funeral in colorado. sisters susan and jamie and my pop made the trek with me and lola. it was a long two days and 20+ hours of driving for only one full day there. but i am so glad we did it.
there was a small service at a presbyterian church, and it was really nice. simple. i stood in the back for most of it, rocking lola girl to sleep. at the end, we sang 'how great thou art' and it was just a perfect, teary moment.
i am happy he's reunited with his wife after so many years apart.
and i would bet he's fishing again right this very minute.
**i don't know how many times i said it on this trip, but the scenery was BEAUTIFUL. i am not a fan of snow or cold, but the snow on those evergreen covered mountains was just more than i could take. if it weren't so dang cold and snowy more than half the year, i'd probably pick up and move there. so so gorgeous.
|she had no idea what she was in for, poor thing.|
|found this bench at the cemetery. i'll be honest, i was a little creeped out.|
|the sunshine and those snowy, green mountains. i couldn't get enough.|
|had to try to have a little fun and take advantage of a swimming pool! except it was too cold for her to swim anyway. so she just looked cute in her suit :)|
|(second) cousin nate, cousin shari, susan, jamie, me & lola, dad, nate's wife sara|
you can kind of tell in the picture, but shari has prosthetic arms. she has a prosthetic leg too. she is amazing. you can't find much nicer people than these.
|wish i could've gotten better pictures. these don't do it justice.|
|the cemetery had the coolest old barn building with stained glass windows in front.|
|and then back to the red rock of utah.|