I am thinking of beginning a Thursday post called "Thankful Thursday" where I think back to people in my past that I would like to thank, for one reason or another.
Today, if I could, I would thank my uncle. He was an unmarried dairy farmer with wiry muscles and big tough hands with cracks in the skin and at least one blackened fingernail. He brylcreemed his hair back and once a week, he would tidy himself up and go to the local town for a few drinks with his friends.
I would thank him because he always seemed to have time for me, a little timid girl who tagged along, watched him work, asked him questions, and road on the fender of the tractor when he took loads of fresh cut grass for the cows. He took the time to show me a new batch of kittens and patiently let me give buckets of powdered calf starter to the calves. He showed me how to get the calves to suck on my fingers and then lower my hand into the bucket, so they could learn to drink from the bucket.
He listened to me practise my speech for school over the sound of the milking equipment. He used the green hose in the milk house to wash off my rubber boots with hot water. He let me make what was probably the worst cup of instant coffee for him when he popped into the house for a moment before heading back out to the barn.
I had parents who loved me and took care of me. But a great deal of my childhood was spent at the farm where my grandmother and uncle lived. I loved the animals, the repetition and predictability of the daily chores, the changes of the season on the farm. I even loved the smells. I loved the river that ran through the farm and fishing with bamboo poles and pieces of summer sausage as bait, waiting for the cork to be pulled down from the surface of the water. I remember walking up from the river, fish swinging from the hook, holding the pole and looking around to find my uncle so he could take the fish off the hook for me!
He took me with him in the farm truck to pick up what was needed from the feed store. Sometimes he stopped in at the very tiny, like-you-stepped-back-in-time general store in an even smaller hamlet and let me choose a treat - pixie stix, or shoe string licorice, or bubble gum.
No doubt my uncle was busy most of the time. He prided himself on the neatness of his entire operation and rarely sat idle. Yet, he made time for me and never made me feel like I was annoying him (although I likely was) or taking up his valuable time. I was not the only niece of his. He had other nieces and nephews. I was the youngest of all of them, so I assume he made the same time for any and all of them when they came to the farm.
And so for all of that, Uncle Boyd, I thank you.