My Favorite Person Growing Up Was

My favorite person growing up was…

My uncle, Donnie. So, Donnie… was/is my mom’s youngest brother and was a compassionate and sensitive person. He loved jokes and had a fantastic laugh. He loved to play cards, have a beer, stop by for a cup of coffee (or two) and a smoke with my mom, talk about politics, and dream. He was a great dreamer, something I think we have in common. 

Donnie is on the far right. He was in his teens. This was at my Uncle Bim’s wedding (sharp dressed man with the carnation and the sticky-outie ears)and before I was born.

I wanted to study commercial art and be a graphic designer. I felt like most of the family thought, “well, she’ll meet a nice guy, get married, and have kids” if she went to college. At that time, no one in my family or extended family had yet to go to college and earn a degree (my brother and I would be the first).

He was excited for me because we shared a love of design and drawing, especially with children’s book illustrations. Donnie’s the one that turned me on to collecting certain books because of their illustrations. He and I actually created a children’s book together while I was studying art. He wrote it, and I created the art. It was a circle of life story way before the Lion King, but with an acorn named Waldo who was afraid of falling from the tree and realizing his potential of growing into a mighty oak tree. It was never published and disappeared through moving over the years. It’s still in my head, though, and that art degree has taken me on a fabulous career journey in all kinds of environments.

Donnie died of lung cancer at age 56. Yeah, way, way too young and from all those cigarettes. He’s been sorely missed and missed a lot having left us so soon. My aunt and cousin, her children, and now my cousin’s grandchildren. He would have been such an amazing grandfather. 

I think Donnie would have loved my children and grandchildren, and they would have loved him. My daughter and granddaughter would have given hima run for the money in many ways. I think, too, he’d been pleased about my daughter studying art at a major university and the amazing career she’s already carved out. He could have been my son’s hunting and fishing buddy, and shade tree mechanic Yoda. You can never have enough buddies. Or Yodas. Or uncles.

Everyone needs a great uncle, especially one named Donnie. 

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