I had a lot of them--uncles, I mean. Uncle Lee, Uncle Granger, Uncle Jim, Uncle Harvey on my mother's side, and two uncles, my mother's brothers, who died before I was born.
On my father's side there were Uncle Sid, Uncle Russell, Uncle Del--all my father's brothers--and Uncle Les, who married my father's older sister. She died before I was born, but Les was around for a while.
Ten Uncles. Not bad for an only child. Good, in fact.
Uncle Lee and Aunt Juanette had four kids--three boys and a girl. Marlin is dead, Duane joined a cult church and cut off all contact with his family, Joel is having the onset of dementia and Gail, I believe, is in an emotionally abusive marriage. Lee was a farmer and a brilliant builder. He built a home for him and his wife in Bluefield, 30 miles from where they lived next to my Grandma Jones. He built a live in basement first and they moved there, then over several years, he built the house above it, almost totally by himself--plumbing, electricity, walls and roof. Amazing,
Uncle Granger and his family lived in Falls Mills, Virginia, just across the boarder from West Virginia. They had 8 children, two of whom are dead. I was never sure what Granger did, but he did well to raise such a brood. They were all members of a evangelical church I never quite understood either.
Uncle Jim suffered greatly from WWII in the Pacific. We have names for what he had now, but not then. He left when his two children, Mejol and Bradley were in their teens and was gone for 8 years until he woke up in San Diego, unable to fully remember what he'd been doing for those years, but back in touch with the life he'd left behind. He spent most of the rest of his life in a V.A. hospital in south-western Virginia. He was married to Georgie.
Uncle Harvey was a preacher, first in the Pilgrim Holiness Church and then in the Nazarene Church. He and my mother's youngest sister, Elsie, adopted Denise when she was 8 or 9 and she turned out fine. Elsie eventually had a Ph.D. in education, My mother, Elsie and Georgie were all school teachers for their whole working life.
Sid was an insurance salesman and a furniture maker. He made amazing furniture and one day, in his basement, accidentally cut off his right hand. He put the artery between his teeth and drove himself to the hospital. As they were fixing the wound, he suddenly started laughing and the nurses thought he was going into shock. But he told them he was just thinking about Callie, his wife, coming home to find his hand in the basement. He and Callie had two children, Greg and Sarita. Callie was the daughter of my grandmother Jones' brother so they always called me 'their double first cousin'. That wasn't true--I was their first cousin and third cousin. But my father's family didn't get into details like that. I called lots of cousins 'aunt' and 'uncle' on that side of the family until I figured out they weren't. My mother's family kept all that straight.
Les died when I was a child. I remember his voice like a voice from the radio when I was a kid. That's all I know about him. One of his sons lived with my parents until I was born. I grew up in "Pat's room". He became a preacher too.
Russel and Del both lived in Anawalt like we did. Russel owned a grocery store and a 'dry goods' store and Del owned the Esso station. They are embedded in most of the memories of my childhood. As a teen I worked in the H&S supermarket. Russel and Aunt Gladys had no children. Del and my 9th grade math teacher had one girl. I was never close to her.
All my cousins, except Mejol were quite a bit older than me. I knew them, but not intimately. My parents had me when Dad was 41 and Mom was 39--an outrage back then, normal today. Since they never imagined a child, Mejol was a big part of their--and my--life. Mejol and I still call almost weekly.
Uncles. Aunts. Cousins. Pretty special.
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