#1 Great Uncle

When I was 12 my great uncle Paul described to me how he was the Cowardly Lion and I thought he was so cool. Recently I came home from a camping misadventure to a heavy room. Mom told me he had died. I felt like a real shit-head for not visiting him on his death bed. A bright blue sadness enveloped us.

He had stage 4 lung cancer so we knew he was not much longer for earth. In Breaking Bad reference I said: “At least he can stop selling meth.” My mom said: “Oh he stopped doing that years ago.”

Some iconic memories with Uncle Paul took place in the exchange of gifts. He once gave Noah a Hastings gift card with the inscription: “Question everything and trust no one” done in his quintessential shaky scrawl.

Some years ago he sent us a holiday greeting with him standing in front of a forest of marijuana with “Hi, Merry X-Mas” written below.

Last year we bought him a hoodie with a marijuana leaf on it, and Hawaiian pot seeds in the pocket.

When I started college Uncle Paul handed me a $20 and told me to spend it on pizza and beer. He told me beer is actually very good on cornflakes if there was any leftover.

Uncle Paul stayed with us when he would visit. He always left before anyone woke up, explaining that he preferred an Eskimo Goodbye, without a lot of dilly-dallying. When I was younger I would wake up early to say goodbye to him. He always gave a side-hug and said: “Love ya’ darlin.'”

There are always some things you can’t really get across about a person when describing them. Uncle Paul was a real badass and a curmudgeon in the sweetest way possible. His eyes were light blue.

My sibling and I made Uncle Paul a cup once that said: “#1 Great Uncle.” That’s still how we feel about him.

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