Wednesday, April 18, 2007


My nephew wrote a poignant column in the local paper about becoming an uncle for the first time. He's the father of two (or so his beautiful wife lets him believe :) but until yesterday he was not an uncle. I know he will be a great uncle. In his column today he said some things about me that put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes.
I've always taken the job of uncle very seriously. That's not to say that I have not given my nieces and nephews a hard time. When my nephews next door were young, they always wanted me to play basketball. I never "let" them win. If they played half hearted I trounced them but if they hustled and worked hard, I'd slack up just a little. Of course both of them stand a foot taller than me now and if we played basketball today, they'd spank me like a naughty child.
Part of my job as uncle is to be there - at ballgames, birthdays, holidays, graduations and later at weddings. I also make it a point to be there if they ever need my help. There have been times when scheduling, work or other responsibilities got in the way but I think if you ask any of my nieces or nephews if they can count on me to help if needed, I feel confident they would all say yes without hesitation.
But as my nephew pointed out in his column today, the job of uncle goes a lot deeper. You have to be ears when they need someone to listen, you have to be voice when they need direction or encouragement, you have to be banker, mover, hauler, baby sitter, transporter, cheerleader, and teacher...not a preacher, but a teacher. There is an old saying that goes - "kids will more attention pay, to what you do than what you say." So I've always tried to set an example though I know there have been times when I fell short of the mark.
I think I've influenced their politics, their love of music and books, and their love of college football.
My wife Jilda and I did not have children but my nieces and nephews are like children to us. The great thing about that is we can spoil they young ones rotten, pump 'em full of candy and soft drinks and send 'em home to there parents. Is life great or what?

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