Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's All in the Dash

Here I am, age 38, and still learning new things about people I have known for all or most of my life.

When I was two or three, my 15ish-year old uncle came to live with us for a short time. Most of what I recall of that time is based on photographs captured and preserved in our family photo albums. When I was around 10, Uncle Doug married a woman (we’ll call Aunt D) and had a daughter. Aunt D brought two sons from a previous relationship into the marriage with her.

But since they didn’t live near us, I never got to know any of Doug's new family very well. This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to see these three children as adults; unfortunately it was when I attended a funeral for my Uncle Doug. I sat back, listened and cried as the oldest child delivered a beautifully written, well-spoken and caring eulogy.

I have always known that Uncle Doug was a fun-loving and happy man. I know that whenever I would see him, I couldn’t help but smile. What I did not know is how he was as a father or how he raised his kids. Step-parents don’t always get the best wrap, but based on the memories shared by the oldest child, Uncle Doug made the best of it. During the eulogy, Oldest Child told stories of how Doug had become his best friend, confidant and golfing buddy. Then he retold the childhood story of a fight between him and his brother. When Aunt D expressed her concerns about it, Uncle Doug said (paraphrased) “Just let them fight. One of these days one of them will win and they won’t fight any more.” Those comments exemplified Uncle Doug's attitude about life – just let things happen and see how everything pans out.

The minister opened the mic up for anyone to comment and share. Another Aunt stepped up and explained that when you see the date of someone’s birth followed by the date of their death, you need to focus on the dash in-between the dates. Everything about you resides in that dash. What makes you who you are is in that dash. My Uncle Doug lived his life the way he wanted to… he lived the dash.

Now, before I close, I want to say that while visiting with Aunt D before the funeral, she told me that Uncle Doug had been reading my blog. (Apparently my proud father shared the link with him.) I had NO idea than Uncle Doug even surfed the net, let alone took the time to read my blog. Aunt D said that they enjoyed reading it together and she plans to continue to read it. So, if any of my loyal readers care to comment, feel free to direct them at Aunt D.

Aunt D – If you’re reading this, I'll miss Doug, too. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


  • pb&j in a bowl

    Life really is all about the dash, you know. I'll be praying for your family.

  • Anonymous

    Nicole and Aunt D.

    I am very sorry for your loss. It is amazingly difficult to lose a loved one, especially you, Aunt D. I know the hardest will be the upcoming months when all the visitors have left and you have to carry on your life anyway. I pray for your pain to be less. I pray for you to be comforted and lifted up.


  • Sarah

    What a cool way to put it--living in the dash!
    And my thoughts and prayers are with Aunt D, as she moves on in her life, always having her memories of Doug. He sounded like a wonderful man.

  • Anonymous

    I am sorry for your loss and I pray for you to survive from such pain.

  • Tara

    living in the dash- I love it.

    I am sorry for your loss, and especially yours Aunt D your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Michele

    I am so sorry for your loss but I love the dash comment. What a great way to express how important the in-between time is : )