The Epitome of a Man
When someone is asked who has or had the most influence in their life, they usually
think of someone they are extremely close to or someone who has overcome some amazing odds. I think of neither. When I think
of the person who had the most influence in my life, I think of my Uncle John.
I was never very close to my Uncle John. I saw him at all the family gatherings;
Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Easter, and any other holiday my family could think of just to spend the
day together. We would all flock to the rustic one bedroom, one bathroom trailer in Waucedah that we called camp. There had
to be at least thirty of us, not counting all the dogs. Hardly getting a chance to have a conversation with everyone there,
it was total chaos. Everyone is scampering around cooking, cleaning, talking, playing, searching for things. At the picnic
table Uncle John plays smear with Grandma and Grandpa, so naturally there is an argument brewing and things start to get louder.
I was sitting on the picnic table, hardly able to hear myself think, watching everyone trudge up the sidewalk with pans and
bags full of food. They would all smile, wave, and of course yell to everyone inside the camp. Then here he came, that tall,
skinny man. He had the biggest smile of them all. I knew it was Uncle John from the second he got out of the car. His hair
was graying, but not totally gray; he wore jeans and a plain T-shirt, and carried most of the things that were needed from
the car. It was just another wonderful day that he got to spend with his family at camp. As he got closer I saw his face and
he saw me. "Sara! You’re more beautiful than the last time I saw ya!" A huge smile took control of my face and his and
I gave him a hug.
Uncle John always knew how to make a person feel special. It didn’t matter
if I had just rolled out of bed; hair all over, eyes barely open, dressed in scrubs, and the look of "I swear to god if anyone
says one word to me, I’m going to lose it!" he would still sincerely tell me how beautiful I was. Now I knew I didn’t
look beautiful at all, but once he said it, it didn’t matter, my face was instantly glowing. This made me realize that
giving someone the smallest compliment can brighten up their whole day, and making someone else’s day better makes your
day better too. Even if someone is having one of those "got up late, bad hair day, spilled the milk, car won’t start"
days, it always feels good to give them a compliment and make them feel better.
Uncle John always put other people first. I don’t ever remember a time when
he thought of himself before anyone else. It could have been the hottest day of the summer; a real scorcher, and someone needed
their grass cut. Do you think he would say "no, it’s too hot"? Never. Without even thinking about how hot it was or
hot it was going to get he got on that lawn mower and cut the grass. He cut grass for a lot of the neighbors in town. If he
were in the middle of something and anyone needed something done, he would drop whatever he was doing to go help them. This
made me realize that sometimes things aren’t always about you; taking other people into consideration makes the world
a little easier to survive in.
It was June 18th, 2005, a Saturday morning. I was bundled up in my blanket, dreaming,
curtains closed, totally oblivious to the fact that it was even close to morning, and my door flew open. It was my mom. Eyes
wide, mind and heart racing, mouth open; I was ready to start screaming at her for waking me up and scaring me. I looked at
her and in a very snotty voice said "what!!!" There were tears in her eyes and then I realized something wasn’t right.
"John died," she said. As I calmed down everything began to come into perspective. I laid awake in bed for a few minutes then
began the long trip to the living room, stepping over all my dirty clothes, shoes, and all the other garbage that prevented
me from getting to my bedroom door. The living room was as quiet as church on a Sunday morning. This was the first time in
as long as I can remember that everyone was awake and the television wasn’t on, cupboards weren’t slamming, and
we weren’t arguing about something stupid. We all just sat in silence and disbelief.
Now, my Uncle John taught me a lot of things about life while he was alive, but
the thing that has the most influence on my every day life, I realized after he died. This is not to take things for granted.
He was the most amazing person and I didn’t realize it until after he died. I always assumed there would be another
Christmas or Easter or Mothers Day or Fathers Day that I would see him again. After he died I realized that things don’t
always turn out that way, and there isn’t always going to be a next time to see someone or tell them how they are loved.
It showed me not to fret about the little things and just to roll with the punches, play the cards you were dealt.
I think about my Uncle John every day and remember all of these things. He influences
every day of my life. I make sure that everyone I talk to has a smile on their face when they are done talking to me. I make
sure everyone has their chance to feel special, even if all it takes is a simple compliment. Most of all I make sure that
the people I truly care about know that I truly care about them; I tell them every day. My Uncle John influences me to live
every day like it is my last and treat every one else the same way, because there might not be a next time.