my uncle – Bill McDonald   14 comments

Posted at 9:40 pm in family,loss,memory

Bill and his sister Marian (my mother) around 1951

My uncle, Bill McDonald, passed away earlier this week. He and my mother were the last of their once large family.

I always considered Bill to be a friend as well as an uncle. Although I did not see Bill too much in recent years, we did talk a few times since I began traveling after Don’s death in September 2008. The last couple of times I saw him, we discussed my travels across Canada and the U.S. Bill would always express some concern about me traveling alone. I was dismissive about the dangers of travel, and soon our talk would turn to the places we had been. We discovered that we had both traveled through many of the same parts of the west, although Bill’s wanderings through California, Nevada and Arizona had been in the late 1950s when he went on an extended road trip. By that time, he had his pilot’s license and rented a plane which he flew over the Grand Canyon.

Bill with his floatplane – c. late 1950s

Today, I decided to write a few lines about my memories of Bill.

One of my earliest is of him flying his floatplane to our cottage on the Ottawa River. I was probably six or seven years old. How well I remember Bill’s small blue and white plane dropping down from the sky and skimming across the water on its pontoons as it taxied into the little nearby bay. Over a couple of days, he came and went as he flew over the river. It was so exciting to watch his plane gain speed and finally lift off into the air. I waved and cheered. It all seemed rather amazing — my uncle flying up into the sky over the river!

My uncle was a very strong, fit man – a lot like my father. I remember him doing a fun trick when he was with some of my cousins and their friends. He would do one-armed push-ups. One was difficult enough, but he could do several in a row. The others tried, but none could replicate this stunt. We were all a little awed.

Bill was always the kind of person who seemed steady as a rock and could make things turn out right. At my dad’s funeral in 1999, he and I, my husband, and my brothers were to be the pall bearers. While we were getting instructions on what to do, there were some awkward moments as the funeral director didn’t seem to think that I should be one of the pall bearers. Bill made a couple of good-natured remarks that managed to defuse the situation.

Bill leaves behind his loving wife, Joanne, as well as his sons, daughters and their children. Also my mother, who has now lost the last of her family.

I know he will be greatly missed by one and all.

Fly on, Bill. Godspeed to you.

Written by bev wigney on July 11th, 2013

14 Responses to 'my uncle – Bill McDonald'

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  1. Hi Bev, sorry for the loss of your uncle, and to your ma, of her brother. Thanks for sharing a bit about the fellow.

    I thought the gal in the pic was you, but the style seemed wrong. Sure looks like ya.

    Mike Egan

    12 Jul 13 at 1:03 am

  2. Mike – Thanks! Yes, quite a few people have remarked on how much I look like my mom!

    bev wigney

    12 Jul 13 at 5:42 am

  3. My condolences to you and your mom. Your uncle Bill sounds like he was quite a guy. I love the photos of him and the stories of his strength and good nature. A lovely tribute and remembrance, Bev.

    robin andrea

    12 Jul 13 at 10:24 am

  4. A splendid tribute to your uncle. I remember seeing that photo of him and your mother earlier on. Thank you for telling us more about him and for sharing the photo of him with his floatplane. I deeply appreciate people like your uncle who can make good-natured remarks in situations which call for defusing. My condolences to you and your mom.


    12 Jul 13 at 1:14 pm

  5. Dear Bev,
    condolences to your mom, you and your brothers and the rest of the family. You gave your uncle a nice tribute.


    12 Jul 13 at 3:50 pm

  6. A nice tribute for an interesting and adventureous soul. You look like your mom and I think you have inherited your uncle’s spirit of adventure.


    12 Jul 13 at 5:20 pm

  7. Very nice tribute to your uncle Bev. Sorry to you and your family for your loss. You do look like your mom, nice picture. Hold close all of the great memories of your uncle.


    12 Jul 13 at 8:50 pm

  8. So sorry for your loss, Bev. Thank you for sharing your memories and photos.


    16 Jul 13 at 1:06 pm

  9. So sorry to here about your loss, Bev. Thank you for sharing your photos and stories about your uncle. He sounds like an amazing man.


    16 Jul 13 at 2:13 pm

  10. When I saw the picture, I thought two things. First was that the man looks strong. The second was that the woman and he must be related.

    I recently lose my uncle, my mother’s brother-in-law. It was very difficult for me because my mother had just died a few months earlier, and she and my father had had a close relationship with my mother’s sister and her husband. Now my aunt and an estranged uncle are the only ones left alive from that generation. It’s very strange to think of that.


    16 Jul 13 at 3:27 pm

  11. Sorry for your loss, Bev, and this post is a lovely poignant inspiration. Perhaps I will be able (at some point) to do something similar for my sister who passed away several days ago. It will be later though – I’m still trying to assimilate the fact she is gone and string some words together.


    27 Jul 13 at 8:26 am

  12. Thanks everyone. It’s nice to be able to share good memories of friends and family.

    cate – I’m very sorry to hear of your loss. I hope that, after you Will be able to write about your sister. I do think it is helpful in some way, but also such a good way to honour our loved ones. Take care. bev


    27 Jul 13 at 8:40 am

  13. Loved this, Bev. Such memories and reflections are to be cherished, and your Uncle Bill sounds like someone I would have liked to know. I never flew the west, but I fly the Northwest Territories and the Arctic, and I have never forgotten those flights.


    7 Sep 13 at 7:49 am

  14. cate – I can only imagine the places you have been up north! Yes, you would have liked my uncle very much.


    7 Sep 13 at 5:08 pm

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