Happy Birthday…

Over the years, our family has significantly diminished in size. There are family members my heart aches for…with a wish of one more day…one more day to share hugs…one more day to repeatedly reinforce my love…and my regrets for not being a better, more loving relative. On the flip side, some who have passed barely left a blip on the radar. Our parents married quite young – they were only 20 years old. Our Mom always referred to our Dad’s brothers as her “old brother-in-law” (he was seven years older than our Dad) and her “baby brother-in-law” who is seven years younger than our Dad. For some reason this struck a chord with me and I have always referred to him as my “baby Uncle” even though he is twenty years older than I. Today is his birthday and it’s a major “number.” The age doesn’t matter to me! This is the man who, along with our Dad, made the Sister and I laugh by dancing the Kazotsky across the kitchen floor! He sympathized with the Sister and her allergies as he had suffered from them since childhood. He attempted to teach her how to blow her nose but, for some unknown reason that maybe she could explain if she remembers, she inhaled into the tissue! We laughed until we cried but the tow-headed child stood there stoically. She was absolutely perplexed why the nose-blowing lesson had ceased! This was the man who joined us at the World’s Fair, weighed down head to toe in camera equipment! He shot pictures of everything and everyone including yours truly! When our Parents tracked down Mickey Mouse for a photo op, our Uncle noticed I snatched my hand away from the rodent’s glove. He put two and two together and suggested to our Parents that they should locate Donald Duck! The duck?!? Preposterous! Disney was built around the Mouse! As soon as I spotted Donald, my face split into an ear-to-ear grin! This man certainly had his niece pegged! He and his siblings grew up in a traditional Jewish home. This proved too much for our Father who swore he would raise his daughters without a knowledge of their religious background. Our Grandfather enrolled us in Hebrew School and Sunday School but our religious education ended with his passing. Over the years I was hungry for more. I wanted to know what role Judaism had in my life. Our Uncle stepped into the void and, along with our Aunt, started to guide me through the next part of my education! He held the Chuppah at our wedding and argued with our Father when he planned to decline saying the blessing for the wine and bread. He reminded his brother that, as father of the bride, he was responsible for the prayers. Our Father shot back that I look upon Our Uncle as my father-figure. This was twenty-one years ago and he hit the nail on the head! Our Uncle is essentially my father! Our Dad and his siblings were raised in a home where affection was rarely expressed. Our Dad never told the Sister or me that he loves us until our Mother’s passing. On the other hand, our Uncle always initiated a visit or a call with a hug and telling us “I love you!” Said visits and calls end the same way! The brothers may look so similar but they are as different as night and day! I have babbled long enough! To my “Baby Uncle,” I wish you great joy, health and happiness today and all the years to come! Happy Birthday! I love you!

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