My uncle Jon in KC died last Wednesday morning, less than a few hours after I posted about our plans to bring him to Waterloo, and just a few hours after I last talked to him. Our last conversation was brief, but he told me he was proud of me. Jon was the closest thing to a father I had growing up. He was a big guy, big smile, big laugh, big spirit, and my brother and I used to climb all over him as kids, as if he were some walking jungle gym. Jon loved movies and books and comics (he got in on Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four from their first issues) and a lot of his enthusiasm for storytelling and heroes and adventure rubbed off on me. I think as a kid I always wanted to create something Jon and his wife Charlene would want to read or go see (they were on the news once back when "Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom" came out, standing in line) and I hope someday I still will.
He was a carpenter, worked in the same lumber yard as my grandfather in Waterloo for years until he became a kitchen designer for Home Depot and eventually moved to Kansas City. He loved football, LOVED the Hawkeyes. The Chiefs. He played football for East High in Waterloo and played Santa for Aaron and I one Chirstmas a long time ago. Jon was 56. He was too young. He had a lot more life left in him, and a lot more fight. I've gone back and forth in the week since being sad, and angry, and just bewildered at the speed of it all. I'll miss him a lot, and I just hope I can continue to make him proud of me.