The Phone Call…
So this morning I got the phone call I had been hoping I wouldn’t receive. In reality it was a simple “Please call me back” voice mail from my mother but I knew immediately from her voice that my Uncle Bud had passed away. As soon as my mom answered the phone, she didn’t have to say a word. She broke down crying.
My Uncle Bud has been battling Melanoma and from conversations with my mom I knew things were getting worse, even though no one was really saying it and the doctor’s didn’t seem to want to tell the family how bad it was. When he was first diagnosed I was crushed.Despite the fact that he lived outside Atlanta, GA my entire life, I always felt a close connection to him. It was probably mostly because my mom and he were so close. Uncle Bud was the oldest of 5 and my mom was the youngest. After my Uncle Freddy and both of my mom’s parents passed away when she was young, Uncle Bud was sort of a father figure to her. And he always treated my brothers and I like we were much closer than just nephews.
Uncle Bud has always been an incredibly strong person and represented a true patriarch in my mother’s side of the family. Probably my earliest memory of our relationship came during my parent’s divorce. I was pretty young, about 5 I guess, so I was just old enough to have to experience all the stuff but too young to really know what was going on. Uncle Bud came up from GA to be with us and my mom during the process One day on the way home from the court house he took me to a baseball card shop and bought me my first set of baseball cards. It probably didn’t seem like much at the time, but I think about that a lot and still have those cards stashed away in a box somewhere. I don’t know why but those cards have always meant a lot to me.
Another vivid memory is something that I have thought about a lot the past few years. One year when we went down to visit the family in GA, I honestly have no idea how old I was, I was standing in the living room of his house and saw a picture on the wall of him in the middle of this huge crowd of runners. He was the first person I knew that had ever run a marathon. I didn’t even know what it was before seeing that picture but I immediately knew it was insane! When I started doing triathlons, and eventually got more addicted and going further, he was always incredibly supportive and I’ve often looked to him for inspiration.
Right after I graduated college I was able to drive down to Atlanta to see him get inducted in to the Wrestling Hall of Fame. While I knew he was an incredible man, it was then that I realized how much he had done, not just for his family but for more people that I could ever possibly hope to count.
He recently told my mom not to worry so much because he couldn’t go anywhere yet, he had a wedding to go to in April. I truly hoped he would be there to see Carrie and I get married, I really wanted to share that moment with him. He may not be there with us, but he will absolutely be in my thoughts on April 28th.
I’m not nearly a good enough writer to put in to words how much Uncle Bud meant to me and our family, or how much he will be missed. I can only tell you that I hope that one day I can become half the man he was and leave even a trace of the positive impact he has had on this earth.
Uncle Bud I love you and will miss you terribly. You always were and will continue to be a huge source of inspiration to me. I hope your last moments were peaceful ones and you were comforted by Grandma & Grandpa Hennebaul and Uncle Freddy being there to welcome you home.
RIP Uncle Bud!