He had the biggest ears of anyone I had ever met. He would get up in the morning and put on his red athletic jacket and head out the door to walk around Binghamton and do whatever it was he did. I never was sure. I knew he didn’t go to work, like my grandfathers did. I didn’t understand, really. It didn’t matter. When you’re little, you just accept things for what they are.
He would wake up in the morning when we were staying at their house, and come downstairs and see me there in the front room. And every morning he would tell me that my snoring had kept him awake all night long. I never knew what to say to that. Surely I didn’t snore that loud . . . he was in the upstairs and we slept in the basement.
Grandma’s kitchen had a big wooden spoon and wooden fork decorating the wall, and Grandpa could take about twenty pills with just one swallow of water. They had a cuckoo clock in the living room and a lava lamp in the basement that Mom or Dad would turn on as a nightlight when we slept down there. The green blobs floating up and down still fill my memories of their house.
And Uncle Carl was always there, even after Grandpa died when I was six. He would sing bits and pieces of songs– I’m forever blowing bubbles . . . — and take naps in the afternoon with his door wide open, and then tell us again that he hadn’t slept well because of our snoring. I peeked in there once and he was snoring so loudly that I didn’t understand how he didn’t wake himself up.
When they got a dog named Heidi, he couldn’t pronounce her name properly. Everyone thought that it was hilarious how he called her “Hiney”; I didn’t get it till I was grown up and Uncle Carl had been at home in heaven for several years. Now I get the giggles when I think about it.
If he were born today, he would be placed in a special education classroom and given great services so that he would learn to read and be able to have a job and maybe even his own apartment. But he was born a hundred years early for that, so instead he just stayed at home with his mother while his siblings went to school. He walked around Binghamton and made friends with everyone and watched the high school games and was such a faithful fan that the team gave him a team jacket.
He was a simple man, with the hugest ears I had ever seen, and with a hearing aid and a dog named Hiney. And he loved people and ministered in his simple way to everyone he knew.
I can still hear him singing . . . a pretty girl is like a melody . . .
I think heaven must be a brighter place with him in it.
Jennifer from Getting Down with Jesus challenged us to write about a person from our childhood. I immediately thought of my great-uncle Carl. As I was writing, I was thinking that I need to write down more about him. I know so little. He died when I was 14. I realized I know very little about him.