Sunday, October 28, 2018

His Uncle's Nephew

Monday, October 30th marks ten years since my uncle, Jim Swiglo died. It was the culmination of a whirlwind two months where he went from hospitalization to hospice to death. I was not aware until he told me that September that he had terminal pancreatic cancer, but I did not know until several years later that he kept his medical issues under wraps until the secret was no longer sustainable.

Indirectly, Jim's death was the catalyst for me to start taking improv classes. I was in a creative rut at the time; I was dissatisfied by doing stand-up, and frustrated by the lack of performing options in the suburbs. I had to broaden my horizons in some way, and commuting to Old Town once a week was a start. Jim was 52, living with his mother, and seldom traveled. I did not want to become him, and I still don't.

As such, my social circle bears next to no resemblance to what it looked like in Fall 2008. Granted, some friendships disintegrated, but most of my high school and college friends are either too busy or too far away. I'm very selective about who I communicate with from Salem Radio Chicago --where I was employed at the time-- but most of them no longer work there. I attempted to go out on Halloween with "Sandra" (the topic of two past blogs) but I really just wanted to talk to someone. Even in a close family, I felt alone in my mourning. In 2018, improv and comedy dominate my social life; I felt like I had a much stronger support system when my parents passed in 2016 and 2017, and I'm beyond grateful.

Given how young Jim was when he passed, I do wonder what life would have been like had he lived into his mid-60s. I fear that he would've almost certainly voted Trump, and would have been oblivious to #MeToo. He wasn't socially conservative per se, but even in 2008 his backward attitude about women would have been hard to ignore. He died before the Bears signed Jay Cutler (who he would've hated) but he would rub the Cubs' World Series title in my face. There are little quirks of that I don't miss: his random singing, his tendency to chew gum with his mouth open, the way he would tuck his undershirt into his underpants. In spite of that he was a good man, a generous soul who put family first.


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