MY UNCLE JIM
Iíve always had a favorite uncle; which is saying something as there were seven kids in my dadís family.
Our household was the only one that had the privilege of his company as he and dad grew up as the best of mates. We might not see him for a couple of years at a time then all of a sudden he would arrive at the front door and stay with us overnight.
One such time I remember him showing up out of the blue when I was only five. My dad was a rigger for cranes and was still recovering after months in hospital when a load dropped on him. When he got out of hospital at last, we had to move. Barely able to walk, my dad struggled with a fridge on a trolley when my uncle suddenly showed up. He lifted the fridge himself and carried it into the house.
This was never unusual for my uncle. It was due to my grandfather being a freak of strength; my uncle Jim was the only one to inherit half of it.
Whenever Uncle Jim showed up at our house, there was always presents and he would regale us all with his latest exploits. Me and my brother used to laugh when he and my dad would debate over who was the greatest super hero of their day etc.
I remember when were still going to primary school, he bought this brand new four wheel drive. He took us out bush and let us take turns steering the thing. My brother tried to avoid some of the saplings but my uncle tore the wheel off him and shouted, ďDonít let those trees get away!Ē
We used to go camping with him and he taught us how to spear fish and small sharks, to live off the sea in general.
As I grew to be a young man, I took the time to visit him occasionally. By this time heíd been around the world and done just about everything. Thatís when I noticed something uniquely special about him. He was so charismatic that he could seat himself with strangers and after an hour could have them all listening to him and speaking as if theyíd been friends for years. I had seen him draw people like this to himself more than once.
My Uncle Jim had never been married but never knew a shortage of women.
He is old now, more than seventy and he and dad had a falling out. We have not seen each other for years and we never will again. We have grown apart from each other.
Itís funny how you remember things. I donít think of the bitter old man who lives distantly from us. All I can remember are the times he made me laugh and the adventures we had when I was little.
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