The Passing of a Legend & Motivational Tuesday

Catchup Time! It’s been ~3 weeks since I last wrote. Feels like 6 months. A lot has happened and hasn’t. My friend that was visiting left, I took a spontaneous roadtrip to a drift event, explored multiple awesome college universities (many of which I’ve never seen before), I saw friends/family, my car broke down, FREAKIN’ TWICE, and then the unexpected happened: my uncle got really sick and is now on hospice. While it’s been a while since I spent quality one-on-one time with him I thought I’d dedicate a couple words to him.

The man, the myth, the legend. My parents are divorced so growing up I only got to see my dad ~twice a year for two weeks a pop. We always made the most of it. It was always filled with eating like kings (steaks, tacos and lots and lots of Diet Coke). We saw his parents and whenever possible his only brother, Joe, who lived out of state. Here’s his life story in succinct fashion: always knew what he wanted to do. FLY. became an Air Force fighter pilot, transitioned to commercial flying and did so until forced age retirement. Owned 1 house, 1 old classic mustang car, 1 bomber rusty basic-ass 200k+ mile truck. No wife, no kids. Literal millionaire looking like Joe Schmo. Living the simple life. Did and went where he wanted. Complete freedom. Always had a story and was the nicest man imaginable. Sometimes he’d fly down for the holiday, most of the time he didn’t. Sometimes he’d pick up the phone, most of the time you’d get the unintentionally cute voicemail. I loved this guy.

I heard after retirement he was having some medical problems. He dealt with some, ignored others. I got intermittent updates of him and his condition as they filtered through my dad but then outta the blue I heard his condition suddenly worsened, like terribly, and he wanted to go comfort. Hospice. Wait, wtf. I hadn’t even said hi or bye. My dad flew up, I surprised them both. I walked into the room and it was exactly like I’d seen at my hospital a million times. A shell of a man that will never know I was there. We sat. I had a one-way conversation. My father and I reminisced over a few good meals and 24 hours later me and my 2021′ Tacoma pickup packed up and left. What a fucking wakeup call. Pay attention, talk to people, say you love them. Family, you’re born with them but they’ll likely die without a ceremonious or appreciate “goodbye”. Technically he’s still with us… but he’s not. Man I’ll just say it here: “I love you uncle Joe and here’s why”.

You were the person I was always jealous of. You woke up one day and knew EXACTLY what you wanted to do. you stuck with it, dedicated to it and were the best. I don’t care if someone works at GameStop. You wanna do it… do it! Have fun. Enjoy it. Wake up wanting to do it. For me medicine was a longgg journey. My stepfather did it and I looked up to him. I volunteered. I dabbled. I slowly bumbled into Emergency Medicine. My passion is still growing! While reviewing for boards I get excited with new diseases and ways of diagnosing and get PUMPED UP when I know the diagnosis before finishing the sentence… then feel sick to my stomach when the answer wasn’t even something that was on my diagnosis. Fuckin’ medicine man. Always someone smarter and forever evolving (thankfully not thankful). I love the patients that are grateful and regret my career choice when I get a needle stick, sworn at, questioned, yelled at by my consults and miss important life events. Joe never regretted. He might of had a bad flight, a mechanical problem, a this/that and neverrr bitched. He was a champ.

He grew my passion in flying! I’ve always loved everything mechanical. I did RC flying as a kid and especially with my dad. Still have all it in a dusty box in my childhood basement. I still sketch solutions to every problem I find. I prefer drafting paper (grid paper) to college ruled. My favorite movie growing up and still now is, is “The Rocketeer“. I’ve included a clip below. The main character is the epitome of masculinity, the lead female is a bae, the planes are iconic, the music is classical and mesmerizing, there are Nazi’s, there are laughs. What doesn’t it have? Michael Bay. Thank god. F that movie-wrecking dude. LOL jk.

I owe a lot to Uncle Joe. I’ll always remember and cherish the times I got to spend with him. I’ll always laugh at his blunt childish sense of humor, his ritualized lifestyle, his grin. His medical surprise really kicked my butt into gear. While I’m here frantically studying away for boards, you realize time is finite and it’s important to take care of your health. A month ago I joined an awesome gym, I’m waking up earlier each day and making sure to reach out to those that have had a positive impact on me. Y’all take care of yourselves just so I don’t have to see you on my next shift! Fly high uncle Joe, you got this!

-Z

Image Credits: Featured, 1, 2

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