“I hate Uncle Dubbie,” 7 year old cousin Dara had said.
“Oh, honey. Nobody doesn’t like Uncle Dubbie,” her mother replied.
“Well, I don’t. He’s mean,” she said, decidedly.
Mary sat there in the funeral home, munching on a few goldfish crackers, wondering why they were swimming around in her stomach so vigorously.
“Uncle Dubbie” was her dad. Dara wasn’t the only one who didn’t like him, either. Children were afraid of his gruff manner. Yet, God in His wisdom had decided that S.W., the anti-social Southerner, would make a perfect father for little Mary.
What can I say to make them understand?
Her Uncle Dan sat with her cousins, waiting to hear her deliver the eulogy. They thought they knew him, but she knew they didn’t. This was her last chance to redeem his character. She knew that what she planned to reveal had never been heard before. As she stepped up to the microphone, she prayed that, somehow, she could make them understand.
“Many people might stand up here and talk about all their father did for them in life. Well, I want to share with you the strength of my dad. I’m going to talk about what he didn’t give me.” Cousin Dennis shifted in the hard wooden folding chair. Mary saw him glance quickly over to his sister and roll his eyes.
Mary took a deep breath and began. “As you all know, dad grew up poor in the backwoods of Louisiana. What you didn’t know was that his mamma was crippled and his daddy was a drunk. Dad told me he once asked his daddy for a nickel to go to the movies. His dad said no, then called two little girls over to him, giving them each a nickel and telling them to enjoy a movie, on him.” Mary looked at her elderly uncle who was fidgeting with his hearing aid. “Okay. Maybe dad was a bit cheap, but at least he didn’t give money to any of you, either!” The laughter that followed relaxed her a bit.
“When his daddy would come home drunk, he would often abuse my dad. My dad never raised a hand to me. ” Mary eyed her cousin, Dara. If she weren’t about to cry she might have laughed aloud. Dara’s eyebrows looked like two catapillars arched in gastric distress.
“Having been raised in the South, my dad was so poor, all he had for breakfast was attitude with a side serving of racial prejudice. Back then, the thought was, someone HAD to be lower than they were. It was lonely at the bottom. Dad never passed a word of that on to me.”
“Dad’s strength as a father was in what he didn’t give to me. However, there were a few things that dad, as scarred as he was, did manage to pass on. He gave me his outrageous sense of humor. Tales of his neighbors, Efford and Dittimus, will stay with me forever. I will always cherish the times dad took me fishing and would imitate the discussion that was taking place just under my hook. He was gifted at nicknames. Granddaughter Chris became “Chrishopper.” Grandson Landon became “Tarpoop.” Grandson Bart was “Hot Rocks.” Even the dog didn’t escape it. The toy poodle became Boo Boo, but quickly turned into “Bieux Bieux, or Bieuxpoid, for short.”
“Dad gave me a sense of wonder over the simple things of life. I remember the time someone gave dad one of those metal desk calendars that you spin with a finger, each day, and the date changes. Dad would urge anyone within earshot to come look the amazing invention. “Watch this!” he’d say. Then, eagerly, “Now, watch this,” as he turned the date, once again. Glass birds that would continually dip their beaks in a glass of water were a source of wonderment,as well. I wish that I could be as captivated by simple things as he was.”
“My dad lived a life of simple abundance. He never had much to give, but he knew enough to pass on what he could and let the bad stop with him. Dad wasn’t a common father, but he was perfect for me, and I feel uncommonly blessed that he was mine,” Mary said, determinedly. As she walked toward her seat, head held high, her uncle reached out and grabbed her hand.
“Do you think I might be able to get a copy of that?” he whispered.
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