My dad’s older brother, Michael Ward, died on Wednesday. While my dad told me the news yesterday morning, I don’t think it entirely hit me until I saw his obituary, though I had partially processed the idea that the man we knew was largely gone after his massive stroke almost six years ago. Uncle Mike is also the first close relative (i.e. my grandparents and their descendants) of mine who has died in my lifetime, an unusual streak. With that bit of context out of the way, I wanted to share a few memories that I have of him, mostly from when I was a kid.
First up is his mischievous grin, which has something to do with the nickname “Uncle Trouble”. Second, his joking nature, with a touch of sarcastic wit. Third, during family visits, mostly at Christmas or Fourth of July, he always found time to play with us. He taught me to play pool, to play cribbage; he showed me how to shuffle cards properly (with bridging). I suppose that was a mildly corruptive influence? Still a skill I’m glad he taught me.
He was very much into gadgets, and was one of the few grownups I knew in the ’90s who always seemed to have the latest Mac or a nice camera. I remember visiting him once in Chicago, where he was a news director, and being amazed by his TV that could tune 16 stations at once. He was an encourager of my own interest in technology, and was responsible for the infamous Zip Drive photo (by giving me one for Christmas one year). He also played a lot of golf, which somewhat influenced my own interest in the game.
Even after his stroke, I liked sharing pictures with him, and he loved to see them. I ended up returning an old favor by helping him keep his Mac organized and up to date whenever I visited them in DC.
Uncle Mike was always quick to chuckle. I will miss him greatly.