Call from My Uncle

My mom’s bother called this morning. It was an interesting conversation… He started by saying how he’d been intending to call for so long. He called me less than a month ago. After asking how we were a few times he launched into a reminiscence:

He shared that he was rereading letters from my mom (and wanted to know if I had sent them to him, which I hadn’t), and had just read one from January of the year that we “moved to where you are now.” I replied with the year. He then said he made the trip with us, and how we drove to Cleveland, where he stayed with realitives, and the rest of us went on to Boston where my mom was to receive a reward/recognition. At this point in the story, I dropped out of it, and their dad was also being recognized in Boston. The story also changed in that he wasn’t able to make the trip because he was too young, and mom was in high school (he had made a 25-year leap in his story at this point). He pondered, “I wish I could remember what your mom was getting an award for…” I offered “Archery?” That was it!

He kept saying, “My memory is going crazy.” Over and over. He didn’t seem distressed, but bemused. Other things that were sad for me in our chat were having to correct him on how old he thought he was, by 10- years, that he thought my kids were in high school, he couldn’t remember my husband’s (of almost 22-years) name, and trying to steer the conversation to photography. Remember that Clairol commercial from the early 70’s with that girl tossing her mane of hair over her head?? My uncle took that shot. The photography conversation ended up with him getting stuck on the cost of the camera body I want to buy. “That costs more than I’ve ever spent on a camera!” He’s beyond understanding the value of unlimited sensors in a Nikon… Or the idea of purchasing as much as you can when upgrading for the first time in over a decade so as not to have your equipment become obsolete in a few minutes. Or tech, or that’s 2021. Sigh

The upside of the time I spent with my uncle is that I was able to surf it without anxiety. He’s not my responsibility. And perhaps there is a blessing in that we have always lived a country apart. He has expressed profound guilt in never have been the uncle he wanted to be. For me, I didn’t know any different, and always enjoyed the time I had with him. No load. Now, after 15-years of my mom’s illness, I’m weirdly OK at this point in my life taking odd phone calls from my uncle, being able to be present (truly), and not feeling a stitch of responsibility.

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