So many things. We went on a trip with him in Summer 2017 with my family (husband and then 1-year-old son). We met up in Williams, AZ, and spent the next few days going to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, and exploring parts in between. The Grand Canyon was one of his most favorite places to be so having the chance to experience it with him was a gift. We could also just sit and talk for hours about important things and nonsense. He had the chance to get to know my son and seeing him with his Tio Jim was the sweetest thing. He went with the flow and he would let me take him along with me anywhere (shopping, errands, etc) and not complain :).
He loved the outdoors and loved to travel. If he could, he would never stay in one place for too long. He loved to explore new places (although would never try new foods) and connected with people from all over the world. I was able to receive one of his passports after his passing which reflects the incredible amount of traveling he did.
Meeting and marrying his wife in 2017. He had many relationships and for various reasons, they did not pan out. However, meeting his wife was a turning point for him. The thing he was most scared of in life was to be alone. It was so comforting to know that he had her at the time of his death. We felt solace in knowing that he had met her and had experienced such tremendous love and joy in the years (and days) leading up to his passing.
He would say having had the chance to explore the world. My Uncle Paul (his brother) passed away in 2006. It wasn't until he died that my Uncle Jim decided that he wanted to see the world. My Uncle Paul was a world traveler and I felt that my Uncle Jim did not want to look back wishing he had gone out and seen more. He moved overseas and had a job that afforded him the opportunity to travel in Europe, Asia, South America, and more. Although it impacted how often we saw him, we knew it was where he needed to be and it made him the happiest.
To listen to others, even if you don't agree or understand. We didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things but we were able to have conversations in a loving and civil manner. Unfortunately, something happened within the past year that impacted this and our contacts lessened. It was difficult but it was something we each needed to do. With that, it is always important to stick with your values and know what is non-negotiable, regardless of the relationship.
See the world. You don't need stuff. Relationships are important (and hard).
He passed on February 21, 2021 from cancer. He was on hospice and I didn't get the chance to say goodbye. This is something that will stay with me forever. What it has taught me, however, is how to navigate my end of life (if given the chance to). I don't want anyone to question my love for them, regardless of what has happened in the past. It was one of the most difficult things I've experienced but it taught me grace, self worth, and forgiveness (for myself and others). I'm grateful for the time we had, our many experiences together, and the presence he had in our life.