I lost someone really important to me last week, and it has taken that time for me to be able to write this. By birth, John Stevenson was my Uncle, my mother’s brother, but he was always so much more than that. From the beginning he was always that Big Brother, that us first born normally don’t have but sorely need. Then after my father died, he also took on the role of father figure. We spoke nearly every week, and those conversations will be missed.
He was always there to give advice when I asked for it, and often when I didn’t, but should have. As we came together last week and shared stories and memories of John, what amazed me was how much he had a similar influence on many of the kids of my generation, not only cousins, but friends of cousins, children of friends, the list goes on, we all looked up to “Uncle John”. Even more amazing to me was that it wasn’t just my generation but the younger generation of cousins, nieces and nephews, and so many more connections, that came up after us, was also similarly influenced by “Uncle John”.
I think one of that younger generation said it best this week, when he said: “When I spent the day with him, he would pick on me and call me names, but at the end of the day I always realized it was one of the best days I ever had”. That sums up John, he made a big show of having a gruff and grumbled exterior but anyone that knew him, knew that he had a soft mushy marshmallow center, and a heart of gold.
He once dropped everything to come help me out when I was broke down, hundreds of miles from him, without once thinking what was in it for him. There were so many similar stories this week from folks that he had help, family, friends, friends of friends, it didn’t matter, he was always there to lend a hand to anyone in need.
It is so hard to believe he is gone, and it seems that it has been more of a challenge to get my brain to understand that, than it has with anyone else I have lost. He was so much a part of my life, and absolutely larger than life, that it just doesn’t seem like there can be a world without him in it, and I don’t think there will be. So many times this week, I have heard the echo of his voice in my mind, steering my thoughts and pushing my actions. I sincerely hope those echoes never end, I don’t know what I will do, if I don’t hear his voice telling me “Your being a dumbass”, when I am about to make a bonehead decision.
If I manage to have a similar influence on even a small percentage of people in my life, that John had on those in his life, then I will know I have led a good life.