Uncle Carl

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.

Click here to see more submissions for the challenge.

7 thoughts on “Uncle Carl

  1. You remember much more about him than I do, although your post brings back things I had forgotten. I do, however, remember that lava lamp. I hated that lamp. I was terrified of that lamp. I’m still scared of lava lamps to this day!

  2. He had the biggest ears, but needed a hearing aid. There’s just something about that … Smiling here, ear to ear! 🙂

    There’s just something about all of this, Erin. So rich with details, down to Grandpa taking 20 pills with one gulp. And the snoring. *The snoring!*

    I’m so glad you took part in this Erin. You have such a unique and fun voice, and I’m really delighted that you’re a part of the HighCalling.org network. Keep up the good work!

  3. Uncle Carl worked at a candy factory until he retired. I doubt he missed very many days. He walked a lot then, and more when he retired. When you were little, he was older than either of your grand fathers.
    He used to take my big brothers to minor league baseball games. I begged him to take me. He finally did- once, and only once. All I cared about was the hot dogs.
    Once I walked with him. He was in his seventies, I was in my thirties. He asked me if I wanted him to slow down. No way was I going to admit it to him.
    Once I vacuumed his room as he slept. He could hear NOTHING with his hearing aid out and his good ear pressed on the pillow. He was giving a little girl a hard time.
    So many memories. He was a special, one of a kind guy.

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