The Wisdom of an Uncle

I was wondering what I could write about today when my dad and my stepmama stopped by with a few thoughtful gifts. They also brought a box of old photos which were SO fun to go through. I loved seeing my grandma and grandpa, my super young parents, dorky school pics of me and… there were a few shots of my Uncle Tom.

Uncle Tom was rascally and cynical and sarcastic… and he had the most amazing sense of humor. But his most admirable trait was the fact that he was a literal genius. After leaving the military he became a nuclear engineer and we were never allowed to ask him about much of what he did. What my family DID know is that he was insanely intelligent and had a gigantic brain.

For me, smarts revealed themselves in other ways.

One day, back in the 70’s when I was quite small, Uncle Tom and I were sitting on my grandparents porch just watching the world go by. Uncle Tom was smoking a cigarette and drinking a bit of dark liquid from a glass tumbler. My grandma’s cat Crystal strutted by us and then she stopped in the yard and sniffed at the ground.

Uncle Tom blew a plume of smoke and leaned over to me. “See that? In a second she’s gonna dig a small hole.”

I looked at him wide-eyed. How could he know such things?

Sure enough, Crystal began pawing at the ground.

Uncle Tom flicked some ash from his cigarette and then said, “Now she’s going to sit in that hole.”

Crystal sat in the hole.

Uncle Tom was an absolute wizard who must be able to foretell the future. The suspense was mounting.

“Now, she’s going to lay her ears back; real flat against her head.”

I just KNEW it was going to happen. I leaned forward, practically panting with excitement. Everything he’d said so far was spot on. Uncle Tom had magical powers, there was no question.

Crystal pinned her ears and I gripped Uncle Tom’s hand excitedly. “What happens now?”

“Well, now she takes a big ol’ crap.”

Which Crystal did. Complete with a kitty fart finale.

“Next,” Uncle Tom advised, “she’ll cover that hole up and walk away.”

That’s when I knew. That’s when I knew my Uncle Tom was brilliant.

A few months later I heard family members talking about how intelligent Uncle Tom was. I jumped into the adult conversation, so happy I could offer a tidbit of my own testimony.

“Oh, I KNOW he is smart!” I piped up eagerly.

All heads turned and Aunt Verline smiled down at me. “How do you know that, Michelle?”

“Because he knew exactly how the cat was going to take a crap!”


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