My uncle loved to golf.
One of my earliest memories of spending time at his house, a mere two-minute drive away, featured a plastic golf set. He’d purchased one so my sister and I would have something to play with when we came to visit. Though I don’t have an athletic bone in my body, Uncle Phil patiently showed us the ins and outs of a good swing — and then left us to our own devices. He didn’t micro-manage the process.
Winters always brought us to Uncle Phil and Aunt Jacki’s, where a tantalizingly-large hill perched in their backyard. After getting permission, my parents, sister and I would schlep over with our sleds and saucers (like on “Christmas Vacation”!) and spend hours sailing up and down the battered grass. As a parting “thank you” gift, we’d usually build a snowman in Uncle Phil’s front yard. On one memorable occasion, we drove by days later to find our creation had collapsed. When we laughingly confronted Uncle Phil, asking if he’d pushed it over, he denied it. And he never did ‘fess up.
Uncle Phil was diagnosed with cancer about three years ago. Though we worried we’d lose him several times, he fought bravely and was strong until the end. My uncle’s faith was very strong, and I know he’s with God today. Despite our sadness, we’re grateful he is at peace.
I’ll always remember my uncle for his jokes and our love of photography, something he shared with Mom, Spencer and me. He had frequent conversations about the latest gear with my boyfriend, and it was fun to see him so excited about a new lens or camera body. When Spencer and I would talk about plans, Uncle Phil always had a great restaurant recommendation or weekend getaway spot. He loved food and traveling, another shared passion.
Uncle Phil loved to learn and was fascinated by new technology, around which he based his long career. The IT expert and tech guru in our clan, Uncle Phil was always there to set up a new router or printer. I remember him coming over when we bought our first desktop in 1995 or 1996. He explained “The World Wide Web” to my parents, who then explained it to Katie and me. Things weren’t too plug-and-play back then, so Uncle Phil had to make everything jive from scratch. To a kid yet to develop any computer savvy, it was like conjuring magic.
His faith guided him through his journey, and I’m grateful we were able to see him in his final days. We’ll all miss him very much.