I’ve spent much of the past week reading Facebook memories and tweets about Lodowick Brodie Cobb Allison, aka Wick Allison, aka my Uncle Wick. I’ve read every comment on every tribute from D Magazine, Texas Monthly, National Review, and the Dallas Morning News. For those of you who are unfamiliar with my Uncle Wick — that means there was a lot of reading for me to do. And, of course, I’ve read and reread the thoughts of my amazing cousin, Gillea, about her dad, the man she describes as “a giant.” She’s not wrong.
Over the course of this week, I’ve learned that my uncle was a complicated man. I mean it’s not that I didn’t know he was complex, but to me, he was Uncle Wick. Sixteen when I was born, and nineteen when my dad and mom got divorced, teen Wick took on the role of uber cool advice-giving uncle, keeping me connected with my dad’s family during a complicated time. But with my Uncle Wick, life was simple. We played games and he gave advice: Question everything. Teach your kids to ask questions. Wear flip flops and jeans as much as possible. Give back to the world. Make sure you subtract points if you go over your bid in spades. Love your mom. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your beliefs. Follow your inner path. Drink margaritas and eat Mexican food on hot summer days — the salt and sugar in the margaritas, and the spice in the Mexican food will help you cool off. Laugh. Loudly.
Although he wasn’t always physically present in my life — he was a presence. I knew he was out there, and every year, we’d be sure to celebrate our March birthday connection in some little way. Still, when I needed him most, he showed up in person. My Uncle Wick was there for me when my mom died, waiting with a big hug. And when my dad was in and out of ICUs, Uncle Wick was there again, waiting with big hugs. I’ve learned this week that hugs weren’t his strong suit — something I hadn’t known about him.
As we both grew older and our lives grew more complicated, I continued to look to Uncle Wick as an example of how to handle some of the deepest, darkest times I’ve yet encountered. I’d watched him embrace yoga and meditation and mindfulness, and while I didn’t consciously make the decision to “be like Wick,” I’m sure that seeing the difference these practices made in his life weren’t far from my mind when I set off on my own journey to look deep within and become more present in my life.
In my last text from my Uncle Wick, he asked me to be at peace, telling me he was. I hope to be able to once again follow his example.
His memory will always be a blessing.