Everyone needs an Uncle Roland

I had an Uncle Roland.  He spent time with me, he talked to me, listened to me and he laughed with me.  Today, kids are busy.  There’s soccer practice, pee-wee football games, tap dancing lessons, gymnastics classes, play groups and even pre-school cooking classes.  With so many things to sign up for and so many places to go at such a young age, who’s got time for an uncle?  Or maybe the real reason we have all of those activities for kids is that their uncles don’t have time for them.

My uncle knew that I was fearful of spiders.  When his family hosted a Halloween Party I was just a little tyke.  It was my first Halloween Party. I arrived all decked out in my costume and was in awe of all the decorations.  My uncle knew I was shy, so he let me sit on the couch and observe for a bit.  He noticed that I was staring at the fake spider web with its huge fake spider.  That’s when he came over and quietly sat next to me.  He did not laugh, make fun of me, or tease me.  After a few minutes he said “It’s not real” and he took my hand and led me to bob for an apple.  Knowing that my uncle was there gave me the courage to forget that spider and have fun.

One of the last times I saw my Uncle we went to visit him and his family.  It had been roughly 40 years since that Halloween Party.  We sat in the living room, sharing what each of us was up to in our lives and enjoying each others company when Uncle Roland quietly got up and walked over to where I was sitting.  He touched my shoulder and whispered to me not to move.  And then he took a tissue from his pocket and with it he reached behind me and removed a spider, saving me from the embarrassment of a panicked scream had I spotted it first.

I miss my Uncle Roland.  He is missed not because of his service to our country, not because of the various organizations that he belonged to and volunteered his time to, not even because he protected me from spiders, but because he always had time for you.

So, this holiday season make someone’s day, take the time to listen, to laugh together, to be present in their life because everyone needs an Uncle Roland.

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