One of the Good Guys

Five years ago today, we lost my Uncle David.  This blog post turned into me giving my first eulogy.  Please say a little prayer for my Aunt Midge today. Time passes, but the pain of this day doesn’t get much easier.

“To live in hearts you leave behind is not to die.”

My Uncle David was one of the good guys. The kind that I’m not convinced they make anymore.
A real cowboy, who used to rodeo with Chris LeDeux. Who could fix whatever, threaten to fight anyone, wasn’t afraid of anything, and liked a cold Coors Light. A guy with a booming voice, a look that made you instantly sit up straighter and say, “Yes sir!” and who constantly threatened to the kids that he was “gonna kick your butt!”

And yet, the same guy who spent part of Thanksgiving dinner playing peekaboo with my two younger cousins and used to untangle my toy puppets. A man who would give you the shirt off his back if he thought for a second you needed it. He was one of the good guys.

I don’t know if our family is like most others. Aunts and uncles here are not just people that we see once a year and who buy us crappy Christmas presents. In our family, they go to ball games and speech contests, graduations and weddings, and take you out to dinner anytime they are in town. Oh, and they buy really good presents. Aunts and uncles are part of our lives, and for that, I’m grateful.
“To live in hearts you leave behind is not to die…”

My Uncle David was one of the good guys. The kind that I’m not convinced they make anymore.


A real cowboy, who used to rodeo with Chris LeDoux. Who could fix whatever, threaten to fight anyone, wasn’t afraid of anything, and liked a cold Coors Light. A guy with a booming voice, a look that made you instantly sit up straighter and say, “Yes sir!” and who constantly threatened to the kids that he was “gonna kick your butt!”

And yet, the same guy who spent part of Thanksgiving dinner playing peekaboo with my two younger cousins and used to untangle my toy puppets. A man who would give you the shirt off his back if he thought for a second you needed it. He was one of the good guys.

I don’t know if our family is like most others. Aunts and uncles here are not just people that we see once a year and who buy us crappy Christmas presents. In our family, they go to ball games and speech contests, graduations and weddings, and take you out to dinner anytime they are in town. Oh, and they buy really good presents. Aunts and uncles are part of our lives, and for that, I’m grateful.

My Uncle David was the kind of uncle every kid should have. The only guy I knew as a kid who was brave enough to curse in front of my mother. Curse word of choice: Dammit as a new first name. (For example, my Aunt would say something that made no sense and his response would be, “Dammit, Midge!” or my mom would be worried about something or lecturing someone and his response would be, “Dammit, Sue!”)

He was the guy who everyone knew. At the State Fair, he would park himself at the corner of the pig show ring bleachers and never leave, because people who knew him just kept on coming by. He knew more about loco weed and winning a science fair than anyone you’ll ever meet. He became quasi-famous (maybe infamous is more like it) after he was quoted in the paper for this gem: “Pigs can’t read.” We were so proud.
You could always spot my Uncle David in a crowd, because he’d wear the same thing, without fail. Boots, Wranglers, solid colored shirt, black hat. He might mix it up and add a tan vest if it was cold or take his hat off at the table. For 28 years, that’s how I expected to see Uncle David.
Uncle David hated Olive Garden. But Aunt Midge and I loved it, so when they would be in town to take me out to eat, that was often the destination. He would moan and groan all the way through his shrimp alfredo. In fact, a couple of weeks ago he texted to check on me when I had a medical procedure done. I told him they had found a food allergy. His response, “Probably from that damn Olive Garden.”

Speaking of texting—if you knew Uncle David, you might find it strange that he texted. He told me he didn’t have a choice if he wanted to communicate with his grand kids. There was, however, a rule. When you wrote Uncle David, you used correct grammar and spelling if you wanted him to answer. Otherwise, you would not get a response, and would, instead, probably get the new first name described above.

And he loved to text me during Oklahoma State football games. I’m not sure if I’ve watched an OSU game in the last several years without a text from Uncle David. My favorite was the text I got the morning after Bedlam a few weeks ago. Here’s the conversation:

Uncle David: “Okay, so what hospital are you in? I saw on tv that 13 people got taken to the hospital after getting trampled while rushing the field, and I knew right away you had to be one of them.”

Me: “Ha! Well you are correct—I did rush the field—but you will be proud to know I only twisted my ankle and went to a bar and not a hospital.”

Uncle David: “I’m so proud of you for not being a dumbass.”

And you know, I’m happy I made him proud. 🙂

We lost Uncle David yesterday. A week after he was diagnosed with cancer. And Saturday, we will gather to say goodbye. I know that there will be tears, but I also know there better be one heck of a party. Because if there’s not, I’ve got a feeling that there may be a booming voice from Heaven giving the rest of us that new first name.

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