I’m one of the lucky ones. I have an Uncle Ted. If everybody in the world was lucky enough to have an Uncle Ted, the world would be perfect. Here’s why:
Uncle Ted wears many hats. Among them are genius, saint, fixer of all things, builder, machinist, sailer, friend to all. He is very quiet and unassuming. Extremely humble. EXTREMELY. When my aunt got divorced over 40 years ago she was left with 2 twin boys who were around 8 years old. She was going to school to be a teacher and was also working part-time to feed her family. My Uncle Ted paid for her college tuition with the strict instructions that she tell NO ONE. She finally fessed up about 10 years ago to my mom, who then told me, who is now telling you. He didn’t want any money back. He just wanted her to graduate and take care of her boys. Those boys are now almost 50 and they still call Uncle Ted “MacGyver” as he can escape a burning building that has been chained from the outside with just a piece of string and a paperclip. They love fishing just like our grandfather and visit with our Uncle Ted any time they get a new pole, kayak, or something really cool. We also all call on Uncle Ted when we need something fixed like a boat, kayak, bathroom sink, etc. If Uncle Ted can’t fix it you are in serious trouble.
Uncle Ted built a 32 foot wooden sailboat. By himself. By hand. Only the best materials. It’s his baby. It’s his soul. He is currently building a wooden dingy that he will pull behind his sailboat in case he is ever anywhere anchored and needs to get to shore. It looks like a small whaling boat they used back in the day. It’s fantastic. I love nothing more than to pack a lunch and go out for a sail on a nice warm day. There is something about hanging my legs over the side of the boat while sailing along and having the water splash up around my bare feet.
My Uncle Ted and I have a very close relationship. He never married or had kids. Instead he did things like built boats, mini cannons that really work, and tanks. I’m serious. He built a tank once. It didn’t shoot but you could get in it and drive it around. He has always looked out for his nieces and nephews. We are in awe of him. For the past 6 or 7 years now, Uncle Ted and I get together for dinner on Sundays. I will go to his house one week and then he will come to mine. We talk about the latest episode of Survivor or our family tree as we are both interested in researching it. We talk about boats and the shore and he loves to remind me how he doesn’t have to go to work anymore since he is retired. Since my dad passed away our Sunday dinners have turned into something bigger with my mom, sometimes my brother, and sometimes also my dad’s brother Tom. My brother and my Uncle Ted have a lot in common and they chat and chat. Uncle Ted usually brings some sort of tools with him as well because he has taken over the roll of fixing things at one of our houses now as well. He recently replaced the faucet in the bathroom sink. He helps my brother with the wood chipper and snow blower if needed. He’s really good at seeing the big picture. For example, my mom has her washer and dryer in the basement and would like to put it somewhere upstairs. Uncle Ted looked at all the rooms in her house and gave her a few ideas on where it would best fit.
I would not be where I am today without my Uncle Ted. He is my partner in greenhouse building. I am the type of person who doesn’t like to read directions and would rather look at a picture of the finished product to see how to fit it together. He is the one that looks over the actual directions and follows them completely. Without him and his mechanical brain my greenhouse would still be in the box. For the past month, every Sunday Uncle Ted has come up my way to either fix something in the house or help with the greenhouse. I owe him big time. Free produce for life 🙂
Yesterday we built the back of the greenhouse. He guides me and helps me rather than taking charge and just doing himself. That’s what I want and that’s what he wants as well. He wants me to learn and he wants me to be proud of the finished product because I really did build it. I’m pretty sure I can assemble the front wall myself now and hopefully I can do that this week so I can surprise him with it.
I know that life for my mom, brother, cousins, aunts, and uncles would be a lot harder without our Uncle Ted. There are a lot of other people out there that he has helped that would say the same thing. Uncle Ted just moves along and does what he does simply because he believes that’s what you are supposed to do with your life. He even goes back to his old job once in a while and helps them out and doesn’t get paid for it. I always say “why why why in the world are you doing that? What have those people ever done for you?” His response is always the same. “They need help and they asked me. So I help. That’s what you are supposed to do.”
I don’t know (ok I do know) if I’ll ever go back to my job just to help out after I retire (no, I never ever will) but I will keep my uncle’s life philosophy in the forefront of my mind and I will try and live a simple humble life like him. Can you image the world if we were all like that?