My mom was the older of two children, the younger being my Uncle Bill. They were very close as children and as a result, he was an active part of my life from the beginning. The month I was born, my Uncle wrote my mom a letter from jail telling her that he had tested positive for AIDS due to his drug abuse. He was in and out of our house until he died when I was five years old. As a child, I did not understand why he was so sick or why he had to come and live with us. All I knew was that he was the greatest person to ever walk the face of the earth. He would play with me for hours on end and I still can vividly remember his laugh. One day, about a year before he died, I clearly remember him telling me to never make the same mistakes he did. He said that I had my whole life ahead of me and he knew that I would become something great and that I would make him proud. I had no idea what he was talking about at the time but I just said ok. As I grew up, I saw my mom struggle with the grief of his death. I saw her relationship with my grandmother dwindle as the blame for his death hung over the two of them. I heard stories of how he was in and out of jail, dishonest, and unreliable; the image of my hero was dwindling and I was not sure what to think of it. One day my mom and I went to visit his grave and I told her what he had once said to me. My mom told me how proud my uncle was of me even when I was little. She said that despite all his down falls, he loved me very much and believed in me with his all his heart. It was then that I started to understand what his command to me had meant. As I grew up and began to be faced with decisions, I always had him in the back of my mind. I saw the effects of the bad choices he had made, not only on his life but on his family's as well. I knew that I could never put my mom and dad through the pain he had put my mom and grandmother through. As a result, I was never tempted to go to parties, drink excessively, or do drugs; I steered clear of those people and those activities. I have had a fulfilling four years of high school and I did it without the drugs and the alcohol. My Uncle Bill instilled in me a desire to succeed and to not compromise my future or myself. It is because of him that I will graduate from Greater Atlanta Christian School with over a 4.0 and not a mark on my discipline record. It is because of his one statement to me thirteen years ago that I am where I am today with no regrets.
My Uncle Bill
December 11, 2007