Uncle Tom wasn’t actually an uncle at all. He was my godfather. And he was a part of my life until I was around 5 or 6 years old. And then he wasn’t but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the time that he was there and how cool it was that he was in my life. And it’s also written and remembered from the perspective of a five year old, so please forgive the self-absorbed indulgent tone….
My father had been an only child, so there was no aunt or uncle for us kids on his side. My mom had a brother, but they weren’t close (at least not by the time I came a long), so there wasn’t any aunt or uncle there either. So, it was just Uncle Tom. And although all my brothers and sisters called him uncle, I knew that he was really there for me, because he was my godfather. And all the special things he did, well, that was because of me too. And I always felt like a princess around him and for me that was unusual.
I had three very favorite times with Uncle Tom. I’m sure it was because they were repeats that I’m able to evoke the memory of them over a single incident or two. First off, every Christmas morning, miraculously, Santa Claus always had to stop back at the house to drop off just one more present for each of us. Surely, it was Uncle Tom behind that beard. But when I believed in Santa Clause, as I did at 5, well, he was the real deal.
It was with Uncle Tom’s family that we vacationed for the two weeks in Alleghany in the summer. There was not another vacation that I ever took with my family or my parents until I was an adult and planned it myself. So those times sitting on his lap outside the cabin, or wading down in the stream to look at salamanders, well, they were magical times. And they provided me with the only vacation memories I have as a child with my whole family as well.
|The only pin that remains|
And finally, were my birthdays. Every year, he took me to the Ice Capades. Just me. I’d get dressed up and he would pick me up. We’d travel the 15 minutes into Buffalo – the BIG CITY. It was a magical night at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium – the place was enormous! The shows were always magnificent, the skaters so incredibly graceful. Every evening ended with him buying me a skater pin. In mid turn, her skirt ruffled up around her. The pin was the same every year, just a different color outfit on the skater, but always in the same pose, white skates and thin metal blades gleaming. What I wouldn’t give today to have all those pins back. But those nights, it was the company and the occasion, the feeling of being so special. That is what I remember the most. At those times, I was the center of the universe. He always made me feel that way.
And for that, I loved him and always will.