Saturday, March 15, 2014

Butter Files: Uncle Don

We were returning home from a family trip, seven of us packed like sardines into the Chrysler station wagon.  As our home came into view, my Stepmom was the first to make the connection.

"Oh no!", she groaned.

"What?" we all thought, looking at each other.  Did we forget something?  Did we hit a cat?  Did this have anything to do with us at all?

And then we, too, looked towards our house and we also saw it:  The mile long Winnebago parked  in the middle of our lawn.

"Uncle Don!" we all yelled.  We kids adored Uncle Don.  For one thing, he drove around IN his house, like an eccentric, geriatric hermit crab on permanent vacation.  The freedom of the open road was Uncle Don's.  He went where he liked, he slept where he liked.  I still was having a little trouble working out the mathematics of how a vehicle that big could turn corners but I hoped that one day I could learn to do it and join Uncle Don in his adventurous lifestyle.  The budding opportunist in me recognized that Uncle Don was approaching the age where license renewals were not a given.  At some point the man was going to need a driver.  And a nurse, probably, but that wasn't my problem.  I wasn't very nurse-like.  I did suspect, however, that I would be a very good driver.

What also occurred to me, though, as we pulled into the driveway, was that my gentle, sweet Stepmom who was nice to everybody, didn't seem happy at the prospect of a visit from Uncle Don.  Why?  Wasn't he her uncle, after all?  Didn't he always show up unexpectedly, creating a sense of excitement and possibility?  Didn't he take all of his meals with us, being careful to make us aware of his restrictions so that we didn't accidentally send him into diabetic shock?  Didn't he open his Winnebago  doors to us kids to explore and climb over and didn't we all get the opportunity to sit in the driver's seat, before he suggested we all go back into the house and have a nice long visit and maybe a snack as he was feeling a bit peckish?  And didn't he always, always tell great stories while we waited for his laundry to finish washing?  Sure, they were the same stories he'd told on his last visit and the one before that, but they were mostly good stories, if a bit long winded.  I didn't understand her visceral reaction to his unexpected presence.

Uncle Don had come calling.  How could this be bad news?  Who could understand the mysterious ways of grown ups?  Not me.  I shrugged my skinny shoulders, hopped out of the wagon and raced  across the lawn, calling first turn at the wheel.







18 comments:

  1. Great post. I suspect many of us have an Uncle Don; later in life he may morph into an in-law, or a spouse's friend. I wonder if I'm becoming that person....

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    1. You are welcome to park on my lawn anytime, SFM

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  2. And how many more visits did it take for you to figure out the answer? :)

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    1. I eventually asked. Uncle Don was a bit of a mooch

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  3. My favourite Uncle had no thumbs. Seriously. And by favourite I mean I was mostly terrified.

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    1. Wow. Farming accident? That is a little terrifying. Yet, strangely compelling. I think we just found your next blog post!

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  4. You communicated your joy and your Mom's lack of same, very well but your descriptions.

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    1. My in-laws showed up one night, late, about 24 hours earlier than expected. That's the closest I've ever come to getting it. It's not the person, necessarily, as much as it is the disruption to routine, the kids going bonkers, and the lack of silence

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  5. Grownups sucks. I refuse to join their world. Uncle Don clearly has made the same decision. I like him. :)

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    1. I have a vague memory of him sharing Necco wafers. Definitely not a grown up.

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  6. Oh your poor step-mother. She already had the 7 people in the car to take care of and along comes Uncle Don. Kind of reminded me of Eddie in the National Lampoon Vacation movies with his motorhome. Hopefully, Uncle Don didn't stand out on the lawn in his bathrobe yelling "shitter's full!"

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    1. Ha ha. No, he never did, but he may have owned a pair of white loaferrs.

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  7. I used to dream of dropping out of the 4th grade, jacking a Winnebago somewhere and hitting the open road, probably towards that mythical land called California. Never made it. Ahh, well, I enjoyed your Uncle Don enjoying his life on the road.

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    1. Thanks Shelly-in my neck of the woods, the mythical promised land was Florida.

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  8. I seem to recall vaguely a winnebago lumbering down the beach at South Padre whilst camping, and wondering how if he got stuck in the sand there?
    Our ' 65 goat would get stuck at the mere mention of sand . . . maybe more weight is better weight . . .

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    1. So you've met my uncle, then? If that happened now, we can be sure there would be a you tube video about it. Hey, maybe there IS a you tube video. I'm going to check.

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    2. And so there was. If anyone is interested. http://youtu.be/4FGGpl6uSPE

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    3. Good one . . . cept my bago that I saw was one of those older ones that seemed higher than they were long with junk on the top, and this sucker was driving down the BEACH!
      He/she may still be out there somewhere, toward Mexico, living, buried.

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