She paused, startled. Sitting by her step-mother's bedside was a figure, the likeness of his side profile was remarkable. The rounded head, the stoop of the shoulders. The quiet gentleness as he held her hand. But no, it wasn't her father, of course not. It was the uncle who looked like, who spoke like, who imaged her own father.
Her mind's eye recalled the uncles one by one.
She remembered the eldest uncle. Quiet, caring and gentle. A lover of children , he owned a household full of them. With his 'other half ', the tiny motherly half, they also loved and had taken in their two little nieces, newly bereft of their own mother. Aunty and 'dad' had them stay a while. They lovingly spoiled the two lonely children with breakfast cereal - in bed!
She easily recalled Aunty’s cheery call from the kitchen:
"Do you want the cream from the top of the milk?"
"Did we ever!"
Then there was the youngest uncle, a Minister of note. He had gray-green eyes that twinkled, edging with laughter crinkles. When they all got together the “uncle humor” caught on until the room shook with hilarity. Dry and clever, quick-witted.
She was proud of them.
Two more uncles and one dad made a total of six brothers, wow!
There was, or should have been, one aunty in this family. Sadly, the dearly cherished, and only, little girl never grew up to maturity, but had been planted in God’s special flower garden. There were no other aunties on either side of her family among the children of her own grandparents.
As she quietly left the hospital that day, her 'uncle reminiscings' persisted.
"There’s one more uncle."
This uncle, her mother's brother, had spent many hours with her sharing about the past and about the mother she couldn't really remember, apart from much loved photos. He used to teach furniture making at the technical college.
She winced and smiled all at once, recalling his words of wisdom.
"See this", he had said to his woodwork students. "Have a careful look."
Holding his left hand high, he displayed three fingers and a thumb. The safety object lesson was magnificently effective!
She opened her front door, still pondering.
"Life continues on. Progress, however, means there’s no more cream from the top of the bottle... unfortunately!"
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