I attended my Uncle’s wake yesterday, no condolences needed

That is no reflection on what he meant to me or my lack of loss with his death.

It’s just that this is the 6th year of celebrating his life. That’s correct, the 6th wake we’ve had for him. Actually that he’s had for us.

My Uncle Don died 5 years ago and in his will he left a sum of money to Alan, a friend of his here in the UK, ‘to pay for a few drinks for the lads to make up for the rounds I missed over the years.‘  When I explained to Alan that Don had bequeathed this sum of money to him and the wording of the will Alan was shocked I think as he said that Don hadn’t missed any rounds over the years! Of note, in the UK drinks it’s customary in a pub that drinks are purchased in rounds if you’re in a group, with each person taking turns paying for 1 round for the whole group.

We’ve had between 15 and 24 people attend so that sum of money has lasted for 6 wakes, the boys don’t drink what they used to! We hold the event as close to his birthday as possible as my Uncle usually avoided being around family or friends for this birthday to avoid the chance of it/him being celebrated.

This wake funded by my Uncle has been a gift to me. It gave me a chance to meet people who knew him for 40+ years. I heard stories I would have never known about him and shared stories and pictures he never shared (Don was extremely private). Although he never married and had no children, I learned first-hand how loved (they probably wouldn’t use that word and I felt it), respected and gifted he was. To know he had this community that he was part of when we, his family, knew so little about his life in London, felt so comforting. And to celebrate his life with stories and friends for the last 5 years has been wonderful.

The money has run out, and there’s talk of continuing the event with everyone contributing because it’s such a nice occasion to connect.

I’ll be revising my will to include this type of wake in both Toronto and London rather than a funeral.