Blackwater Writing Project

January 17, 2011

Uncle Joe

I always wanted an Uncle Joe, that generic uncle who is a little crazy, but good-hearted. The uncle who is kind of a father figure, but a little looser, a little more free wheeling. My dad's great, and my two uncles are as well, but they're both solid, upstanding members of society, responsible. I don't have crazy stories about them, just normal stories.

It makes me wonder about myself. I'm an uncle now, to a little girl named Lily Grace Wyatt. Soon, she'll be joined by two other little girls and I'll be a three-fold uncle. Right now, it's fairly easy. I see my niece when I can, which isn't as often as I'd like. Our conversations are mostly one-sided, but one day we'll be able to talk and I don't know what I'll say. There are the usual uncle things. I'll tell embarrassing stories about her mom, my sister. I'll take her out for ice cream or take her to the movies, introduce her to lattes. But what do I say when she asks me The Questions. How do you live life? How do you make choices? What's it all about? If she asks me how they make marshmallows, it's simple to answer: they are harvested from clouds. The logic, taking tiny white things from big white things, is obvious. But how do I answer the questions that I still struggle with, the question of what to do with your 78, on average, years? What do you invest all of those days in? Who do you invest all of those days in? How do you find the middle ground of not being selfish, but making time for yourself?

I'm thankful she'll start with simpler questions: Knock Knock jokes, why's the sky blue (it's made out of the ocean), why's the ocean blue (it's made out of the sky), etc. Questions I can answer on a whim or a whimsy. But how do you answer all of the other questions?


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