I have just arrived home from the return trip to Minnesota. It has been a long weekend – but it was wonderful to be surrounded by family, and to be there for, and with, each other to celebrate Unky Steve’s life. (we have called my uncles “unky” all of our lives) The funeral service today was beautiful, I can’t imagine a better way to honor his life. Last night I decided to write something to read during his eulogy, as thoughts about his life, and his impact on mine had been swimming in my head for days…
One of my first memories of Unky Steve is at the pool when we lived in Dixon, IL. Unky Steve would demonstrate to us the arcane art of the Cannonball. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Canonball, let me take a moment to describe it. Unky Steve would begin by taking a swig of brewsky, he would then walk confidently onto the diving board, once he got to the edge he would pound on his chest with his hands, then jump as high as he could, grab his legs close to his chest, and attempt to displace as much water as humanly possible. For my brother Greg and I, this was the ultimate spectacle at the pool. We would watch in awe as the resulting splash would send water in all directions, creating waves so large that they would spill over the edge. He would always emerge, vigorously shaking the water off of his head, with a jovial laugh, awaiting the report from us on how high the water went. “It was higher than the fence!!” “It went up to that tree branch over there!!” We were amazed at this talent, and would try to duplicate it ourselves, as Unky Steve would laugh heartily at our attempts while taking another swig of brewsky. Nobody can do the Cannonball like Unky Steve!
Now I see that Unky Steve himself epitomized the Canonball. His voice and his laughter were both explosive and infectious. He made waves wherever he went, his joy of life spilling over and touching the lives of all of those who surrounded him. He would face each challenge by standing at the edge, pounding on his chest, jumping higher than the time before and creating an even larger splash! He was always drinking in life, enjoying every last drop. Those of us that had the fortune to witness it will always strive to duplicate his resolve and his passion for life.
For his last Cannonball, everybody watched. He fought like hell, approached the edge, pounded on his chest saying “come on Kimball”, and then finally jumped higher than he ever has before. When he came down into the water – his waves washed over us all, the resulting splash reached the heavens.
We’ll miss you Unky Steve.
Thank you all for your phone calls, messages, thoughts and prayers – your support has helped me grieve and helped me heal.