If I could have them back

If I could have them all come back in their old way, it would be like old women having their tea, catching up on the times they missed. There would be my aunt Sonnie, who treated me like a child and man at the same time. My grandma would, too, be present, complaining about my uncle Ron while voicing unconditional admiration for him nonetheless. And Uncle Herb. What a fixture he would be at this table, drinking coffee with cream and sugar, talking about life as everyone should know it. Yes, if they could all come back, what a sight it would be to see.

And how complete I would be, nestled in my seat, learning from the people who made the person I am me, my mother learning from her sources of admiration. I would do something to make Uncle Herb mad; Sonnie would tell him to knock it off; Ronnie would observe with positive thought he’d voice to me later. All the while, Annie would be there, the nonchalant fixture in my life I took for granted, to make me feel at peace again. She also would reprimand Herb, reinforced by Uncle Dickie‘s shrill voice, offered with sincere affection.

I will never have them back in their old way. I will never be able to tell Uncle Herb I grew up just like him and would have yelled at me, too, at the age of 12, for being a smart-aleck who should’ve been decked. Aunt Sonnie is gone. She left suddenly. I never thought life would take her from me. Grandma’s departure was similar – the old Texas soul. Who does this? Who makes these plans? Who lets things change with the twist of a hand? They are gone.

And those who remain, do so far away. Clocks tick; hourglasses flip; life carries on. I am here; those who remain are there. I wish I could work in Aunt Annie’s garden. I want to be with the land. I want to smell it and live it and love it and grow me – like Uncle Ron in my great-uncle’s fur house.

Their generation will pass, too, without me showing my love. I left in high school. I said goodbye as a child. Their impression was latent; I did not voice its effect. I have unfinished business.

My child will grow not knowing these great persons. She visits – that’s it. She could love those who remain as I did and do. She would, if I gave her the chance. She could, if I gave her the chance, know how her father became obsessed with perfection. She could be the product of a pristine, simplistic, awesome and charismatic Appleby family. She really, really could.

If she could know Uncle Herb and his attention to detail. If she could spend time with Uncle Ronnie and his lust for life. If she could only know the love that came from Aunt Sonnie and her mother, my grandma, who demonstrated to my mother who demonstrated to her son what a person does when they love their child. She’d capture a spunk from Dickie.

These are roots she will never have. They are twisting, locking fibers one individual can posses but not strongly enough to share. One must live them, little by little and weekend trip by weekend trip, through several persons if they hope to have it influence their character enough to shape it. One must know a collection of individuals possessing this greatness.

That is why, I say, I wish I could have them back in their old way.

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2 Responses to If I could have them back

  1. You brought tears to my eyes !!!! I also miss them…I loved taking your Grandma shopping with me …she would sit and “people watch” while I shopped,then when we got back to her place we would all hear who she saw and what they were doing !! Your Uncle Herb was the love of my life and I miss him so very much !! No he was not perfect..he did expect his family to be the best that they could be though….and Sonnie…hoe she loved life !! Yes I also wish that we could have them back as they were !!!!

    • Michelle, you were all a big part of my childhood. I have always been grateful for the relationship I had with Uncle Herb the last few years of his life. I was 16-18 and needed his influence; I remember driving my old truck over the hill to hang out with him at his apartment in Smethport as soon as I was done with school for the day. He was tough on me as a child, but proud, I think, of the man I was becoming. He and Sonnie make me wish I lived close enough to spend time with my remaining aunt and uncles, but such is life.

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