Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mon Oncle

A very good friend of mine did two things today that are beyond awesome. First, and more importantly he became a father for the second time. Secondly, but still important (at least to me) he wandered back in the writing world. He is the bastard that got me into blogging, so blame him for the dross I produce, I do. He is also fairly close to being like a brother to me, and I wish that he could have met the title character of this piece, they would have gotten along like a house on fire.

This is going to make you cry, or at least it should, because it is going to be sad, and I am have been on the verge of tears myself while I was 'composing' it at my local for the last two hours. Life has to have some sad stories, or it wouldn't really be worth living. This is a post about living, but more so it is a post about dying. Because the title character is dying, and he is my favorite uncle. This post, as poorly written as it may be is my elegy to my favorite uncle. Stop now if you can't deal with elegies.

My uncle M is (or was) my favorite uncle, he is (or was) that uncle that every boy of a certain age dreams of having. By that I mean he is (or was) Steve McQueen cool, and just ever so easy to look up to, and not just because he was tall.  He also had the major advantage of not being my father. If you peruse these pages, you will know that my paterfamilias and I were not close. We did not understand either other, and I rejoiced at his funeral. I understand that makes me an awful person, but I am the son of an absolute asshole.  I know some people who do science, but I've never asked them if they knew of anyone or any organization that was looking for the 'asshole' gene, if they are I can point them to the spot to start digging in order to find it.

My uncle M is (or was) the opposite of the bastard that donated the sperm that brought me into existence. He was an over the road trucker for years and years, and therefore wasn't around on a day to day basis, and maybe that gave him the advantage. His time around was limited, and therefore much more appreciated by me.  He was like a really good Christmas present that came a few more times a year. He wasn't around all the time, and he was always about to leave so his time was valuable and limited. Looking back, I also realize how lucky I was to get any of his time at all. After all, what guy wants to spend time with his preteen nephew when they was beer to drink, and women to bed.  Don't get me wrong I absolutely adored my uncle. The expression 'worshiped the ground he walked on' barely does justice to how I felt (and still feel) about uncle M.

He is (or was) just like every other red-blooded male in our family, he liked his beer, and he liked the ladies. In fact, he is the man that took me to the first bar I ever graced with my presence. I was somewhere around 9 or 10 years old, and since I wanted to be in his presence always he would take me to this dive bar (back before dive bars were all hipster chic) called the Western Corral.  He would buy me a soda, and set me at the bar and wait. I realized several years ago, what he was doing, he was using me as bait. Because the ladies just loved a little 8 year old tow headed child such as myself sitting at the big boy bar drinking a coke. It was a way for my uncle to get some female attention, and it was both fucking brilliant, and worked like a charm. Once I had sufficiently charmed the ladies, I was bundled off to the car, to 'wait' for my uncle M.  Many a child hour of mine was spent waiting in a car for my uncle to come back from where ever him and the ladies wandered off to. I suppose in today's politically correct world he would be accused of child abuse, but I loved every minute of it.

Eventually like most heroes my uncle fell from grace. One of those ladies stole his heart, and he married her. That decision ended the hero worship for me. He told me later that I wouldn't have anything to do with him for a long time after he married his lady friend. We joked later, years after the inevitable divorce, that I was right about cutting him out of my life, since the marriage failed. I was clearly the better judge of character even at 9 years old. It is a funny story, but the truth was my 9 year old heart was broken because some bitch had taken my Uncle M from me, and I was inconsolable.

He is (or was) also the man that helped foster my love of gambling and the ponies. He was with me when I picked the first horse I ever picked to win a race, and after that horse (Pleasant Colony see "Birth of a Gambler") won,  told me then that when I got to be old enough he was taking me to the track. He is (or was) Burt Reynolds, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood all rolled into one. He took me out on his truck one summer while I was still in the hero worship stage, and when we got back told me that 'if I ever got behind the wheel of a truck like that, he would kick my entire ass.' He realized that I was the brains of the family, and that I should be able to 'do better' than just drive a truck for a living.

He also spent a lot of time teaching me to play cards, which I suppose goes back to the gambler in him, and while he is (or was) way more reckless of a card player than I ever will be, it was a valuable lesson that I am very grateful for. I guess in many ways he was the father I wished I would have had, and in many ways I am glad he wasn't my father. I suppose he had two advantages over my actual father, one was his absence, since he was gone a lot it was easier for him to be my hero because when he came around it was an 'event', and two, while he is (or was) a bit of an asshole himself, he wasn't close to as big of one as my actual father.

Don't get me wrong, my uncle is (or was) not a saint in any shape, form, or fashion. Much like his favorite nephew (since I was his only nephew I won that title) he was a frequenter of low dives, and places of ill-repute. I remember one time when he took me to a 'floating' crap game where there was a light over the door that would come on when the cops where circling the block. He had a child out of wedlock, and was probably more of a bastard than I will ever know about. I remember having to go with the wolf that raised me to bail him out of jail on more than one occasion. I can't not remember what it was he did to get himself in jail, and that is probably for the best. When I lost my head, for the first, but not the last, time over a woman, and was making stupid decisions, the family sent him to talk to me, because they knew it would work, and it did (at least that time).

 And now, my uncle, my hero, the man who made me (in many ways) the man I am today is dying, and there is fuck all I or anyone else can do about it. He is lying in an hospital bed as I type this struggling to breath, and knowing that his time on the planet is drawing to an end. I am going to do my final nephew duty, and go see him, even though I am sure he is not going to look like the man I remember and revere. It is not going to be fun, and I do not really want to do it, but he is my hero and I have to. Going to watch your hero deal with dying is not something that you should have to do more than once. He told the wolf that raised me i.e. his older sister that he isn't afraid to die, and that might be the final act of his that makes him just as cool as he was all of those years ago.  I do not have the words or the talent to express my sadness fully at the passing of my uncle. I can only hope that when the time does actually come, I am half as cool as he is (or was).

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