Saturday, June 14, 2008


On Thursday June 14, 2007 my uncle Graham lost his courageous 10 year battle against Lymphoma "Fine & Dandy" at age 53.

This past year has really passed by remarkably quickly. Honestly, I do not believe his death has really sunk in yet. We have yet to have an extended family gathering since his funeral. I still expect that at the next McConnell bash, he will come sauntering into the room, with his baseball cap on and will greet us with a silly grin and a loud, "Gheez!".

I am certain that this past year has been challenging for my aunt Frances and her children John, Robyn and Lee. My sadness is dwarfed by their sadness. They lost a husband and a father. My heart goes out to them and however I can, I try to bridge the miles between us with well wishes. I wish I could do more.

I have been thinking about the lovely service we had for Uncle Graham. It was probably one of the most personal, touching, loving celebration of life that I have ever attended.

During the service a touching poem, entitled The Dash, was read. The words still ring in my ears. If you have a moment, I encourage you to click through and experience this amazing poem. It will certainly make you think of how you live each day.

My uncle was a caring, funny, hard working guy-next door type of guy. He would help anyone out, give the shirt off his back if he could. He was a prankster. How many other people would have a "fart machine" at his final visitation?

He loved his family dearly and took pride in everything they accomplished. He would be so proud at how they have been coping since his passing. His chldren as growing into fine adults. Uncle Graham was so many things to so many people. We are all blessed to have known him.

Some of my fondest memories of my uncle were when I was very young. I adored my 4 teenage uncles. I can remember sitting on the back porch at my grandparents' house eating watermelon. I can remember my uncles taking me to the local elementary school and putting me on the roof to shag their tennis balls when they hit them onto the roof - I was all of 2 years old! I remember when uncle Graham came to live with us. He was the best live-in-babysitter! And the best poker teacher any 3 year old could have asked for!!!

My uncle had a huge collaboration of sayings and expressions. But when anyone in our family hears an "oh GHEEZ" we will always stop and smile, and think of Graham! He was always joking and putting you on the spot. There was never a dull moment with Graham around.

I remember when I was in university and Canada signed the Free Trade Agreement with the USA. I remember how while I had book uncle had real-life business knowledge. At a family function he and I discussed the agreement with me in his colourful, no holds-barred way and I learned things that no text book could teach. But most of all, I learned that a rebellious, quick-witted "little-bugger" could turn his life around, meet a wonderful wife, have a fabulous family, establish a business for himself and be a success in every way.

After Graham got sick, he taught me the strength of character, the power of family bonds and the relief of humour. Through his long battle against cancer he taught me pride, dignity and courage. He inspired me.

In Septmember of 2006 I remember calling my uncle one night - a bit nervous - with a question. We were expecting our third child and I really wanted to name the baby after him. With each of the children my hubby and I decided on family names from people who had qualities and personalities that we would like to instill in our children. I can still remember the pride in his voice when he told be he would be honoured if we used his name...especially if it was a girl since, you know, Graham is a boy's name! When we later found out our baby was a girl, I had a twinge of regret that would not be incorporating his name.

Just days before his death we all attended my cousin's wedding. Graham's health had been failing. I know how much it meant for him to attend his niece Kerry's wedding. None of us will ever know the strength and will-power it took for him to be there. It was as if he wanted us all to come together one last time and to celebrate like only the McConnell clan can!

The "dash" of uncle Graham's life was a colourful, vibrant, meaningful dash. It was a dash of purpose. A dash full of love, laughter and pride. It was a dash that I am so glad to have been apart of and a dash that touched so many people. It was a dash to be proud of...

Gheez, I miss you uncle Graham. Rest in peace.


forgetfulone said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. What you've done, writing it down, is sometimes the best therapy. After 3 1/2 years, though, I haven't really dealt with my dad's death. It's hard for me to even write that down. I'm thinking of you.

Kathryn said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Your uncle sounds like a wonderful man. My prayers are with you and your family as well as his wife and children.

Thank you so much for The Dash poem. It really hit me. I'm still crying here.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

What a beautiful tribute Laura. He sounds like an incredible man.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

and I am so sorry for your loss.

Jules said...

I'm so very sorry. Your uncle sounds like a very special guy. You did a really lovely job with your post.