The Biggest Guy

25 Jan

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There’s a story from when I was just a little thing of a human…

…In the small town Gram, Gramps and my Aunts and Uncles lived in, was this old grocery store…always smelled of freshly butchered meat from the back stalls where the bright red beef layered in lines just off from the pork and chicken, amongst the garnish greenery…where every conceivable household tool, lightbulb, baking good, camping supply and candy type was somehow crammed into this tiny space on the main street, serving as that old timey type of country general store.

…Precious little has changed in it even now, decades upon decades after…probly even still owned by the same people, where Gram could somehow cash a check, get stamps, buy the brisket and catch up in all the town news, while they opened the brown paper bag for filling.

…And it was there that, as on many occasions, mom stopped one day on the way to visit Gram and Gramps, to pick up something-or-other needed for dinner. Walking through the backdoor access by all the meat, with the smell I knew so well, wafting after me, I pealed through the aisle almost instantly…(a thing Mom never let me do, but apparently I had far beat her into the store,) yelling out as I went, “Uuuuuncle Biiiig Guuuuy!!!” For my uncle at that time worked there, and I’d just seen him from the back of the store.

…And I’d ran to him and he’d pick me up, tall as a giant Swede (the only one of the six brothers and sisters who’d inherited the gene, left mostly served with the small Irish stock), and red-faced or not, he made a big to-do over me, cuz I was the first niece, and totally spoiled, and knew it.

“Hi Boo!” He’d said…his nickname for me hailing from Boobear…

…Little did he know at the time of course, but he took one for the team that day…as all his buddies forever and ever afterward…all through high school and the years and decades to follow after, would call him “Big Guy,” with not hidden smirks on their faces. A family nickname, but not generally known to the outside world. And I had outted it.

…It fit, cuz it was true.

The Biggest Guy, in all the good ways. Everybody always agrees. Sure brawn, and sturdy…but big in laughter with the biggest sense of humor and the biggest giving heart…biggest creative juices, and always always always the biggest champion and protector of the little guy…whoever he may be.

…Age doesn’t change things like that. And it’s nice to know that sometimes…sometimes it happens in this life that a hero never slips from his place of height in your heart. Sometimes they manage through all the hell and high water that life throws at them, to still retain that bigness of character and humor and well- earned devotion, which first gained them their hero title to you…all those years ago.

…And you know what…he’s never once lost it. Not for any of us. Even last time we visited, crowing the end with the giant bear hugs he gives the best. At 33, I still squeezed him with all my guts and said, “Love you, Uncle Big Guy!”

…”Love you, Boo, ” he squeezed back.

…And that, today, is my last memory of him. Because I chose it to be, instead of in a hospital bed in an ICU ward, somewhere in Portland…where family has been sitting vigil and praying…and he has been fighting and winning small battles for his life, and his son, for nearly two weeks.

The Biggest Man I ever met…in morals, and life value, and being a good human…and father…and brother and uncle…the Biggest Man I will ever know, decided it was enough today, and passed away.

The sink in my gut and tear at my heart is completely irreparable. And because of how he lived his life, I am certainly not the only griever at a total loss of capacity to understand the how and why of it.

Uncle Big Guy, in the sky:

Thank you for your youness, the ten hundred thousand laughs, the nips of Jack Daniels, the peace of the farm life, and every twisted, hilarious way of looking at the ordinary and finding the extraordinary. You’ve taught me endless everythings in how to be a good human and appreciate every ounce of life we are given…to the fullest. I’ll try to do better. And laugh more. Always.

Love so full, it hurts,

~Boo

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2 Responses to “The Biggest Guy”

  1. Carolyn Cook January 25, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Dear Faraway Friend, I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my darling Uncle Ben when I was 24 and he was about 57. He was the funniest, kindest, cleverest man. I called him “Uncle Butter Bean” and he called me “Uncle Kerosene.” I don’t know what to say, and I don’t presume to try to comfort you. I just want to honor your love for your uncle, your special bond with him, and your loss. I am taking deep breaths and thinking of you.

    • She Writes A Little January 30, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      Kindred spirits in uncle love…these big, great men leave a big great hole on exit…but equal big great memories. Thank you for sharing, friend…

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