Chicago, IL. This city and I have something going on.
If you know me, you know I love Chicago. And more so, I love my family there.
About 2 weeks ago, my beloved Uncle John passed away. He was my Mom's youngest brother (out of 2). He lived in the same house his entire life in the tight-knit Ukranian Village quarter of Chicago; a neighborhood that he witnessed go through many transformations (90's...not so good). Every summer, as far back as I can remember, my family would fly from LA to Chicago. My older brother and I would spend anywhere from a week to a month there while my parents traveled. My grandparents (Baba and Dido), Uncle John, and Uncle Mike "watched over us" as we ran amuck up and down the house. Those summers have been the best memories of my life to this day.
My family owns an iconic brick three-flat within the village that lines the streets with their rust-colored bricks and unforgettable facades. Most of the homes built in this area date circa 1930s and are filled head to toe with vintage charm, all the original hardware and personal touches that make a home a family heirloom. This house has been such a large part of my life, and what I love about it the most: it looks the same inside and out as it did from the first day I walked in.
During my recent visit back to honor my Uncle's passing, I was able to meet a lot of his friends in the neighborhood and heard stories about him that I never knew. He was a favorite in the community, and in a way, a guardian to most. Witnessing such a strong community within such a large city was truly humbling and made me more proud of where my family was from.
Six and half years ago, I gave my dog, Frankenstein aka Frankie, to my Uncle John. He devoted his life to this little dog, giving her endless love and guidance, making her the sweetest little nugget today. Frankie remains in the neighborhood and will keep his presence alive.
Uncle John was truly a saint - a man that lived his life his way and his way only, keeping his original mullet hair cut from his younger days, 1970's glasses, and a no-BS attitude. He was also the most loving, caring, and mindful man I have ever met, always putting others before himself and remaining completely devoted to his loved ones. I am forever grateful for his generous heart and for him taking in my dog and loving her endlessly when life wouldn't allow me to have her. He will be missed, but will never be forgotten.
JOHN MARK COLTAN