I had not seen my Uncle Rick from England for a good 25 years I’d say. He finally came to Winnipeg to visit us just last spring. You could see the years on his face, but those blue eyes, they still sparkled. Getting to know him through Facebook of all things made the visit that much better. He adored McK, loved her immensely, and you could feel it when he was around her. He got a huge kick out of Pat and believe you me, the feeling was mutual. After suffering a stroke and with his heavy british accent, Pat would say that if he closed his eyes it was like he was talking to Ozzy Osborne.
I will never forget taking him for breakfast at the Nook and having him hollaring out the team song for his Chelsea Blues while we sat in the crowded tiny restaurant. Everyone thought he was nuts. We just sat and laughed. I might have even been clapping along.
I remember my sister telling me a story of when she went to England and was able to visit with him. They went to a local pub for lunch one day and as many large doors do, the door leading to this pub had a sticker on it that said “Push Bar to Open”. So in my uncle walks, straight up to the bar, and leans into it with all his might and heft, huffing and puffing. When asked what in gods name he was doing he simply replied, “Oh, the sign said push bar to open.” This was him in a nutshell.
Of all of the amazing and beautiful things he saw and enjoyed on his trip to Canada, the one moment he said “made the trip” for him was when I brought him to my work. The soccer final was on, his team had made it, and wouldn’t you know it, we got to watch it on a wall-sized screen. He LOVED taking pictures of it and gloating to his boy Si, back in England, bragging and sending pictures to Facebook. Chelsea won that day and we draped ourselves in the flag he gave us and savoured the moment.
At the time, it was just a visit. Something that would likely be repeated. But now, its a cherished memory, one that I feel intensely lucky to have had. How LUCKY were we that he chose to come to Canada and meet McK and reacquaint himself with us after all that time had passed? How lucky are we that he didn’t wait another year, or for a better time, or opt not to come at all. How lucky are we.
Uncle Rick died yesterday. Suddenly and without warning.
Chelsea, Chelsea! Chelsea, Chelsea.