Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My favorite man in the world.

Tom Warren Holland. He was my mother's brother, and one of the most inspiring men I've ever met in my (almost) twenty-two years. This Christmas will be the tenth Christmas we have had to spend without him. I wish it weren't the case, but really, what can you do? Life is fleeting. Nothing is sure.

December (Christmas especially) is always a difficult holiday for me. The last day of the fall semester (marking the beginning of Christmas vacation) in the sixth grade, I came home from school greeted by both of my parents, and then was set down on the couch to hear the news. Uncle Tom had died. They didn't know how or why, they just knew he was gone and that he was in a better place. I was paralized with shock and confusion and I remember putting White Christmas in the VHS player and listening to Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney sing until I could no longer stand to pretend like my little life was unaffected by the news I had heard that afternoon. Then later my legs buckled and I slid down my bedroom door in tears, praying that somehow my parents were wrong, and even hoping that he had just changed his identity for Top Secret government work and he would appear years later at a graduation or my wedding. Oh the imagination I had (and still do) all because of this man.

Tom was everything an uncle should be. He was adventurous, silly, nurturing, and of course very cool. While I knew him, he always had hair down to the middle of his back, was in a rock band, briefly lived in Oakland, CA, went on fishing trips all around the world (his last, to China), and taught me all about the stars. He had an uncanny ability to relate to everyone and everything, and even from halfway around the world, kept his family a top priority. He taught me to light BlackCats and throw them (before they exploded), he would play the Barbie board game for at least an hour at a time, and he bought me a little blue fishing pole that was an amazing piece of fishing equipment. He attempted to teach me how to water ski (I have since learned), introduced me to my first iguana, taught me how to peel shrimp, and took me to NASA and bought me the kind of ice cream they eat in space.

When his father was dying, he surprised us all at a family reunion in Wichita, KS after hopping on a plane from Oakland. Soon after he moved back to Houston so he could spend more time with our family. And he christened one Christmas to be a "white trash Christmas" after not having time to wrap our presents, and he just threw them all into plastic shopping bags.

He was a major part of my young life, and thinking about it now, I am so sorry that he isn't around to see how he has impacted my life. He is one of the reasons I am an "old soul". He has inspired me to do any and everything I have ever dreamed possible, and he has taught me that the quality of your life and the relationships you have is the most important thing in the world. He knew it when he died in his mid-thirties, and he lived his life to the utmost.

If he were here today, he may have gasp! short hair, a wife, a family. We would probably talk about music and play practical jokes on my mom like we used to. He would probably teach me about things I will never know about, but most of all he would be here. He would've been there to see me live my life. He would know that yes, I tried and loved wakeboarding, I have been ridiculously rowdy and drunk, I still listen to some of his band's covers (Counting Blue Cars, anyone?), I took an astronomy class, and he would know how I pushed my fears and insecurities aside and moved to San Francisco this summer.

I hope he would be proud of the person I have become, and I know he would help me further that growth. I'm a little stuck, and I really wish that I had his guidance this holiday season. As for now, I will just have to follow his example and continue living my life as an adventure, and never giving in to the little doubt I carry in my head. It's difficult, and I'm unable to do this 100% of the time, but maybe someday I'll get things figured out.

Merry Christmas Uncle Tom. I love you so much, but you knew that, didn't you?

This photo is so iconic for me. He was around eighteen, I believe.

At the lake. Drinking a Coors. This was obviously 1989.

Uncle Tom with my little sister.

Christmas 1993. The more I think about it, he and I have the same hair texture... thank God for the straightener. Oh and he and my mom look nothing alike.

With Connor at the lake.

Wearing tye-dye and playing with his iguana, Felix.

Tell me all your thoughts on God,
'cause I'd really like to meet her.

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