On Sunday, May 2nd one of the best men I have ever known ended his battle with cancer. He was 44 years old, a father, a husband, a teacher, a brother, and my uncle.
I haven’t written about him until now because it just didn’t seem appropriate. I say that because his cancer isn’t what should be glorified, but his life. I refuse to let cancer define my memory of him. Cancer robbed him of his pride, of his health, but that it robbed all of us of him, is the greatest tragedy.
I was just about five years old when Tim McMullin came into my life like a force of nature. I think my whole family fell in love with him right alongside my aunt Meg.
Within moments of meeting us, he had already let my brother rub his bald head, and had us dangling by our feet like monkeys while he tickled our bellies. It took him no time to start calling my grandmother Mom and my grandpa Pops. We all couldn’t get over his wide easy smile, and his quick, full laugh. He was always laughing, always smiling. He radiated energy and happiness. He radiated life. He was a breath of fresh air.
He made my aunt Meg happier than any of us had ever seen her. She glowed in his presence.
We were all thrilled when he finally proposed. We couldn’t wait for him to be one of us, and I was beside myself with joy that I was going to be the flower girl. I was in a real wedding party!
To this date, their wedding still stands out as one of the most special moments in my life. When the big day came, I was nervous and shy and I was uncomfortable with everyone telling me how pretty I looked in my little white dress. I will never forget the moment when Uncle Tim, sensing my discomfort, pulled me onto the dance floor and let me dance with him and my auntie Meg in front of everyone.
He went on to become a major presence in my life. It wasn’t long after he married my aunt that they had a baby girl. They named her Kathleen–or Katie, for short–and I was absolutely smitten with her. I loved her like she was my own sister, and I still do. I was beside myself with joy when they decided to move to a house 10 minutes from mine.
I don’t know exactly how much time I spent at the McMullin’s house over the years, but it’s sizable, I’m sure. Connor came along three years later, and I took any chance I could get to “babysit” them, even though I would have done it for free in a heartbeat. My uncle Tim always insisted on driving me home after I babysat for them. Those car-rides were always a treat. He would turn the music up and rock the steering wheel along with the beat.
He was so much fun.
I can say without reservation that my Uncle Tim was the happiest person I have ever known. I can’t explain his presence any further, however, without listing a bunch of hollow adjectives that could apply to anyone. But for those of you who knew him, you know what a special man he was.
I’ll keep this short because without a doubt he would call this a “buzz kill”. Besides, I’m not one for tear-jerkers or sympathy moves, but I know my Uncle Tim would be honored, proud, and flattered to know that I took the time to write this. After all, he believed in me to a fault.
Rest in peace.