Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
TITLE: Uncle Jesse's Proof
By Clyde Blakely
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Uncle Jesse loved farm work, besides working after school at their hardware store in town. When Jesse wanted to try out for sports his step-dad was a big supporter. Long family discussions came to agreement that Jesse could participate in any sport if he came home immediately after practice and only played in home games. This was mainly Uncle Jesse’s idea. After each practice or game he ran straight home or to the store, workout clothes and all. Several coaches, over the years, attempted to talk his step-dad into letting him go to away games: “No dice”. Some thought he was “too strict” but Jesse was happy.
Good at several sports, Jesse was offered athletic scholarships from a few colleges. However, with plans of his own plans, he enrolled at state university and worked in a mill to pay for schooling. Two years into his studies, his beloved step-dad, my granddad, died. Jesse quit college, came back to the farm and helped run the hardware store, allowing my dad to complete school and go to college. Though Jesse never returned to college, he did become a cornerstone in our community.
Jesse was elected to the city council five times, served four terms as mayor, and was active in many civic and religious groups. “The General Store” was a central meeting place where Jesse gleaned from conversations the needs of the local community. A fire, he was there. A widow in need, the first person at the door was my uncle. Troubled teens were offered a job in the store or on the farm.
Girls were of special interest to Jesse. He would say, “It’s a man’s world and boys have it easy. I’m just trying to level the playing field.” He was an encourager for all of us but especially the girls: “Why be a nurse when you could be a doctor?” “So you want to be a secretary, why not a lawyer?” “I know you will be the best mother in the whole world.” One of his favorite sayings was, “You can be anything you want to be, anything.” I must have heard this a thousand times growing up.
Jesse was a real gentleman, often demonstrating it for us, even to the men in the community. Always a kind word to a lady, doors opened for them, gave them “cuts” in line, discounts when needed, and there was never a man sitting in a chair while a woman stood, even if he had to ask the “gentleman” to stand.
This all stopped one day when a robber came to the store. Jesse emptied the cash register for him. When the robber grabbed a woman to take as hostage, Jesse moved. His heart of gold was pierced by a bullet. Men in the store reacted, subduing the robber but it was too late for Jesse.
During the investigation an autopsy had to be performed. It was no surprise to the community what Jesse had done but they were shocked at the autopsy results: Jesse was not male, but female! Jesse’s mother and step-father had taken the secret to their graves.
Hushed conversations filled the town for the next few days. Jesse’s request was to be buried on the family farm. The pastor was not sure what to do, eventually deciding to hold the funeral at the farm to avoid any problems. He was not sure if anyone would even come. It was fortunate he made that choice of location because over one thousand attended Jesse’s funeral – moved outdoors. Our city limit sign read: population 627. Many came because of Jesse’s love, assistance and encouragement to be “anything you want to be”.
“Uncle” Jesse proved that anyone can be anything they want to be. And that AUNT no lie. Guaranteed!
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