I generally like the holiday season and never quite understood why people would get so stressed out. I guess I never experienced the X-Mas mayhem but this year I am finding the amount of things I need to do is overwhelming. Everyone has been so generous to me over the last few months that I feel I need to reciprocate and show my appreciation. The problem is I have the longest To Do List and it is sucking the life out of me. Now granted the problem solving skills on these matters are much less significant in comparison to world politics for instance, but none the less, it is totally exhausting. I am spending a lot of time and waffling on very simple decisions such as should I buy the blue or black ones. I mean who cares? … yep I seem to a little more than I would like to admit.
As I think about the holidays, the social pressure around gift giving has gotten out of control. I mean nothing says I love you like a hat and scarf or a salami gift basket. I see the relevance for kids and underprivileged families, however buying gifts for adults seems really unnecessary and a bit of a waste. Wouldn’t it be nice if we just took the time to write or express to each other a heart-felt note of how we really feel about each other? When Robin passed away, the items that were closest to my heart were the simple ones: his written words, jewelry to me, a few of his Bears and Cubs sweatshirts and hats, his father’s gavel, his Sears name tag.. that is all that really matters… This year, I am going to buy less and say more to those I love.
So with that being said, I learned that my Uncle Neil had taken a rapid decline in health and passed away last night. My mother, Beatrice had 6 brothers: Herb, Len, Ted, Mort, Phil and Neil. (Props to my grandmother for having 7 children, thinking about it – hurts my uterus). Unfortunately, Phil is the only surviving uncle now of the 7 siblings. It is sad to think that this generation is almost gone.
Back to Uncle Neil, he was always upbeat, sweet and loving. He knew how to be present and found the details about my life and others the most important. He made it his personal mission to share his memories of his sister (my mother) and keep her alive in all our hearts. He would always tell me how Beatty (that is what he called her) was the reason why he became a lawyer. She advised/otherwise known as told him to go to law school and gave him the confidence to pursue his dream. Uncle Neil would always tear up when he saw me as I reminded him so much of Beatrice. Being a teenager and feeling awkward that my sweet uncle always cried, I would always try to cheer him up by saying “Come on Uncle Neil, I saw the pictures, I don’t totally look like her. He would laugh, tell me I was prettier and refocus. He was such a sweetie – gets me all choked up recalling our exchanges.
Uncle Neil was nationally ranked in table tennis (he played for years and I believe held the title for several years as #1 for seniors). I always thought that was so cool and impressive. I mean, who knew anyone that played table tennis ? So different – love it! Uncle Neil and Aunt Sondra were a constant staple at every birthday party, bar mitzvah and special family occasion. I was touched that every event was attended even when it meant they needed to travel to MI from Ohio which was difficult as they got older. After my mother died, he made sure he treated my father like his brother and accepted my second mother, Lillian into the Myers family with open arms. Even when there were internal family squabbles as one would expect, he never participated and aimed for peace and harmony. Family was first and everything else was a distant second.
Just last night, my cousins and I were chatting on-line about him. We were all devastated by the news and commented that he was just always there for everyone. I thought it was just me and to hear his influence on all of us is so amazing. What a guy, a legend really as there were about 22 first cousins on the Myers side alone and we all had several kids too.
I feel bad that I did not make the effort to call and visit a little more with him. Now I am writing about him after the fact and just hope he knew how special he was to all of us. Uncle Neil made a big difference in my life and was the glue to our family. I hope that my cousins and I can do better with each other and carry the legacy of family in our hearts and consciously take more time and energy to keep the Myers family together and strong for our children. Rest in Peace – Uncle Neil.