Today, when my uncle was going home, I got up from my laptop for a minute--just long enough to say goodbye and give him a hug.
His cheek was sticky where mine touched it
a side-effect of the lingering 38-degree day. He never had been much taller than I was, hes the only adult I never remember towering over me when I was little. Well, except for one time when I was laying on the couch and he leaned over the back.
I contemplated telling him happy birthday, in advance, because it was in the second week of august. But dad had said he was coming for dinner again next weekend, so I kept my lips sealed and sat down to continue typing criticism towards another faceless person on the internet.
He went down the stairs and I heard the door open, and then shut after a long, long pause. I wasnt paying much attention until he came back into the kitchen to show my mom something. I turned to see what he was holding, but was distracted by the bright smile on his face.
The shock almost choked me for a moment.
Now, Im not going to say that my uncle never smiles. Sure, he does. But he also inherited the chronic depression that lingers thick in my dads side of the family, undiagnosed as anybody else in the world. He is the very personification of pessimism, and I rarely see him truly happy.
I finally looked at what was in my moms hands, confused when I saw a toy--no, a model car. A red car. Before I even read the note hanging off of it, I knew it belonged to one of the neighbour kids. He collected red cars. Hot wheels, models, pictures. He and his father had a room full of them. Isnt that the car you have, Uncle Brad? I asked after a moment.
He nodded. The exact same car. My mom turned the car so I could see the note. The letters were big, blocky. I recognized my neighbours writing from when I tutored him.
I was surprised again, and then smiled. After everything I went through to make him smile whenever he came over. All he needed was an nine-year old hed never met before, and his toy collection. I could almost hear the little boys excited voice as I read it a second time, before finally laughing.
Hey C: Nice car! Wanna trade? -Simren