Every family has one. At least everyone that I speak to has at least one Black Sheep in their family. One family member who has just always been regarded as the outcast or is so different from the rest, the Black Sheep label has always stuck.
My family has one of those. My uncle. I guess the difference for me is that my family’s Black Sheep has always been one of my absolute favorite people in the world. My uncle has always marched to the beat of his own drummer. He is one of the kindest, gentlest, warmest, most loving people I have ever known.
As he does not live in the Chicago area, I have never spent significant amounts of time with him but between postcards, phone calls, e-mails and pictures, I feel like my family and I are truly a part of his life. My uncle is cool. He is 60+ years old and has travelled the world. Literally. He and my Aunt spent almost two years traveling across the world.
One of the jobs my uncle had for several years was leading bike trips on the west coast of the US and Canada, Hawaii and New Zealand. A couple of years ago, my Aunt and Uncle tandem biked across the United States, coast to coast. They are amazing.
One of the things I truly envy about my uncle is the pace and outlook he has on life. Now, with three kids and a Type A personality, I multitask throughout my days every day. I move quickly and rarely slow down. My uncle on the other hand, moves slowly, talks slowly, tells stories slowly. His pace of life is so profoundly different from my own. His outlook on life is also very different. He wakes up every morning and is truly happy to be alive. He is awestruck by the mountains, the sunshine, the birds and the bees. And I know that sounds corny, but for him it is real. He makes you really step back and appreciate those things that I don’t always take the time to notice.
My kids absolutely adore their uncle. He will sit with them and tell them these extravagant stories about the people he has met or a cactus that is growing in his yard or even his home that he is remodeling himself and the stories are so enthralling, my kids think it is better than tv. They will sit and listen to him for as long as he will continue.
My uncle is one of those people that after you meet him, even once, he is your friend for life. He has a kind word, smile and a story for everyone he meets. He practices what he preaches every day-live life to the fullest, appreciate what you have, be kind. A pretty great role model.