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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)

TITLE: My Name is Lawrence
By Sheri Gordon


There once was a handsome young bachelor…

Who am I kidding? I suppose I was young—once. And I definitely am a bachelor. But the handsome part is stretching it a bit. Okay, a lot.

Truth is, I’m an old man, with no wife, lots of money, and a gaggle of ungrateful nieces and nephews. I receive the obligatory Christmas greeting from each of them, but they aren’t fooling me. They only want the cash I send in their cards.

Fully aware that my expiration date is nearing, and bored of watching Oprah, Fox News, and The Beverly Hillbillies reruns all day, I decided to have a little fun with my nieces and nephews. Each of them received the following special delivery letter:

Dear Nieces/Nephews,

As you know (actually, you probably don’t know because no one visits me), I have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Since I can’t take my money with me (although I have thought about doing just that), I have decided to leave all that I have to the person who contributes the most to the quality of my remaining life.

Regards, Uncle Lawrence

Just between us, the terminal illness part is a smidge misleading. Okay, it’s a lie. The way I figure it, though, I’m one day closer to death today than I was yesterday. Besides, I needed that line to get everyone’s attention.

So, after sending the letters, I waited with great anticipation.

Cara was the first to come groveling at my doorstep. She faithfully brought her identically dressed daughters every Monday afternoon, when they would dutifully perform a song and dance routine. My favorite was “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.” The girls certainly are precious. Laura, Samantha, Christy, and Jenny. (I call the little one Bubbles ‘cause when she sings, tiny bubbles come out of her mouth.)

Next were Nathan and his two boys. My yard never looked so nice. The grass hardly had time to grow before they were cutting it—again. And never a weed in sight. (I suppose they fired my regular gardener—I never asked.)

Wesley has written some self-help book and he sent me a personally autographed copy. He even mentioned me on Oprah. Guess I’m famous—sort of. He called me his “favorite Uncle Larry.” (My name is Lawrence, not Larry.)

Katherine owns a fancy-smancy bakery. I’ve seen it featured on the society page of the local paper. (I don’t read the society page—I flip by it to get to the obituaries.) Katherine sends me a fancy-smancy dessert every week—wrapped in a pretty pink box tied with a white string. The treats are mighty tasty, but I can never finish them by myself. I’ve tried to share with Cara and the girls, but she says they don’t have time—always running to dance or music lessons. And Nathan’s boys won’t even come to the door—say they don’t want to “bother” me.

Mandy is the manager of some la-di-da restaurant downtown. She has one of the delivery boys bring me dinner three times a week—complete with salad and bread. Too much for one old man to eat. When I’m the final stop on his route, Tommy, the delivery boy, comes in and shares supper with me. He lives down the road a piece. He used to be my paperboy. He always brought the paper to my door because he knew it was hard for me to walk to the end of the driveway.

And lastly, my youngest nephew Ray. He’s been my insurance guy since he graduated from City College. He used to talk to me twice a year, when my premiums were due, but since he got the letter he’s been calling every week. Says we need to “reevaluate” to stay on top of the “changing situation.” Just how often can we “reevaluate?” And how “changing” is the situation? I’ve been a dying old man for years. Same house. Same car. Same everything.

So there you have it. My nieces’ and nephews’ feeble attempts to get on my good side...win favors with me…lay claim to good ole Uncle Lawrence’s riches.

But they don’t get it, and they aren’t getting my fortune. I don’t want to be entertained, or served, or nourished, or sweetened, or “reevaluated.” And I certainly don’t want fame.

I want someone to care about me. I want someone to break bread with me. I want someone to choose to spend time with me. Someone like…Tommy.

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This article has been read 1013 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/24/08
Good voice, good lesson, and Tommy deserves the prize. Nice work.
Sara Harricharan 04/25/08
Oooh, this is good! I kinda wish there was more so I could see what would happen to all the nieces and nephews when Tommy 'won'. I was hoping that Lawrence would pick him, he was the only one in the few sentences that seemed to really 'care'. Good job! ^_^
Martha Davis04/25/08
What a great piece! This happens all too often in the lives of older people. Nobody pays attention until they think they're going to get something out of the deal. If only we would all make time for our relatives . . . if only we could all be as selfless as Tommy.
Peter Stone04/25/08
Very engaging read, and yes, I thought Tommy was going to be the one to get noticed. He was the only one who genuinely cared.
Laury Hubrich 04/26/08
This is very sad but so true. Very nice writing.
Jan Ackerson 04/26/08
Oooh, good one! You got the old man's voice perfectly--a little bit bitter, a little bit sad, a lot ironic.

If anything, I might have dropped one niece or nephew, and developed Tommy just a tad.

This is soooo strong in personality and characterization, and it was a great read! A change of pace which I really enjoyed.
Karen Wilber04/28/08
You hooked me with the letter and the paragraph afterward. LOL. Terrific voice for Larry, uh Lawrence. ;-)
Loren T. Lowery04/28/08
I agree, tell him to get a good attorney and leave it all to Tommy. Absolutely nothing beats or can obscure the sincerity of one's heart. Really enjoyed this!
Lollie Hofer04/28/08
Good read from beginning to end. The first person voice worked very well. Strong charaterization. Have you thought about taking this further? There are enough interesting characters and lots of possible scenarios to turn this into a book.
Chely Roach04/28/08
This was so good on so many levels. Loved it.
Willena Flewelling 04/29/08
We need more Tommy's in the world. I'm glad Lawrence had one.
Debbie Wistrom04/29/08
What a sad commentary on our society. I expected the turn out and was pleased that Tommy, who has the heart of a true servant, will be rewarded. Even if Lawrence doesn't go first, Tommy will have his reward in heaven.
I'd like to be at the reading of the will,,,,maybe for another challenge???!?
Dee Yoder 04/30/08
What a cast of characters. Poor Uncle Lawrence-I'm glad he had one friend and Tommy deserves his reward!
Patty Wysong04/30/08
Oh, good one!! That's EXACTLY what people want--ALL people!! Great reminder wrapped in a great story. I loved the voice!!
Catrina Bradley 04/30/08
Ah HA! I knew it would be Tommy. He offered what the old man wanted. I love your MC, and how he keeps backing up. Great characterization. and great writing!
Joanne Sher 05/01/08
Awesome voice - and an absolutely wonderful piece with a great message. Love this man - AND Tommy!
Sara Harricharan 05/01/08
WOW! So glad this one made it! Congrats on your well-deserved EC! ^_^ Awesome writing!
Beth LaBuff 05/01/08
Congrats on your EC!
Dee Yoder 05/01/08
Congratulations, Sheri!!
Lynn Jacky 05/01/08
Congratulations what a great story. Enjoyed reading. Thank you for sharing.
Loren T. Lowery05/01/08
Shari - Congratulations on placing with this piece, it showed great depth and feeling. It's nice sharing the EC with such talent, too : ) Loren
Julia May05/01/08
Very good writing and a great lesson. We NEED to make time for the elderly - especially if they are family. Congratulations on a well deserved win.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/01/08
Congratulations, Sheri. I enjoyed this story.
Leigh MacKelvey05/02/08
Yeah! I told you!!! You're doing great this quarter!