So I am blatantly stealing this line…
Tonight was a gathering of most of the men I’ve loved. There was Uncle Don-the man who, among other things, taught me to never, ever write on a dirty car with my finger. He also taught me never to sling a bat after an incident in his side yard–and to share cokes— I didn’t share one at a Braves game when I was smaller and it haunts me to this day. Uncle Don knew I loved Gone with the Wind and gifted me with an actual brick from Margret Mitchell’s house. He makes killer salt and likes to sit in a straight back rocking chair. My Uncle Don.
Mr. Smith, the man who nicknamed me Bones back when it was appropriate. He probably feels pretty silly calling me that now but old habits, like nicknames, die-hard. He’s been a part of my life since the very start…it’s been that long since Bones was an appropriate nickname for me. Then there was Uncle Danny. He always made me laugh. One time, in a passing comment that he is sure to not remember he complimented my writing. Bet he doesn’t know how I cherish that. Then there was Stephen. Cousin. Those teen years wouldn’t have been the same without Stephen. We went to college together.
Then there was my Dad. I guess I don’t show him or tell him enough but he’s my first love. There they were, all gathered together.
We were gathered to say good-bye to Uncle Bucky. Bucky taught me to drive. I wasn’t an adventurous sort, I wasn’t outgoing or chatty. I wasn’t usually one picked to do things like this, but for some reason, one day, he chose me to go to the store. Don’t remember why. Just remember him telling me to drive his new baby blue car. A buick? It was the 80’s so it was big–that I know. I might have even been barefoot. I didn’t have a license. I don’t remember much but I know I didn’t want to. Bucky, being Bucky, slid in the passenger seat and I was left with no choice. I remember him telling me to brake before the curve and accelerate 1/2 way thru it. He didn’t yell. He didn’t get exasperated–he just lounged next to me in the big old bucket seats and taught me to drive. Why do I remember that conversation so clearly?
Bucky also gave me a job. I was receptionist at Southern Plumbing (his business) for a summer. He also slipped me a hundred-dollar bill when I was saving money to go to Europe. Years later Bucky was again my boss when I was a waitresses for the Elks Lodge. Bucky was quick to smile and had a funny tilt to his nose. He was the baby brother that wasn’t the baby and sort of had that go-with-the-flow kind of attitude that came with that non-baby, baby ranking in a household of 7 siblings. During the cousin game of ‘name-them-in-order-by-full-name-game’ that we played at every gathering his name always made us laugh-Augustus.
We were saying our farewells in the same place where I said good-bye to another love…Uncle Gene. Uncle Gene who always made me feel special even when no one else noticed the shy girl in the corner. I have a picture of him posing with me in my prom dress moments before my date arrived. He’s grinning like a clown! I swear I think he thought I looked beautiful and that still makes me proud.
The same place where good-byes were said and tears were shed over my Grandpa. My sweet Grandpa who spoiled us with bed supper and trips to the ice cream store. My Grandpa who was patient and kind and seemed to love us in a special way that only Grandpa’s can.
All the men I’ve loved in my life…my early life. Some have gone, some are here. I don’t venture down memory lane too often but when I do these are the men that make the stories, fill the memories and make me smile.