Friday, April 2, 2010

My Uncle's Lessons

As I sat at my mother's house tonight, with everything mostly quiet and dark, listening to my uncle and watching his face light up during our conversations, I began to think back on our lives together.  He is only three years older than I and has had a rough go of things.  Spoiled? Yes. Mean? As a snake, sometimes.  But he has some contributing factors to those things.  Still, if you need something and he has it, you can bet he'll give it to you.

People discount him because he's foul mouthed and because he acts immature they don't take him seriously.  But if you filter out the bad words and the manic emotions, the man does not even realize how much he knows and how much he has to teach.

In the hour I spent talking to him, about nothing that seemed of substance, these are things I realized about him, things that he knows that everyone should know:

1.  Never leave a loved one unhugged or unloved.  It could be the last time you get to show them how much you love them.

2.  No matter what else you do, put your children first.  You are their world and their refuge.  You are their strength and their source of self-esteem.

3.  No matter what your political opinions, when you see a military person, show them respect.  If nothing else, they are doing a job that you do not want to do and because of them, you don't have to.

4.  Thoroughly enjoy every movie you watch, no matter how terrible your taste in movies is; every game you play, no matter how badly you get beat; and every story you tell no matter how many times you tell it.

5.  If someone hurts you, tell them immediately.  If you don't, they will hurt you again and again, maybe even without knowing it.  And if they are doing it on purpose, at least you won't be a doormat.

6.  Say "hello" to people, even strangers.  You never know what kind of horrible situation they could be going home to.  That kind word could be what tips the balance in favor of letting you go before they shoot everyone else in the store.  And be sure not to give their description to the cops as a thank you.

7.  Love those you love fiercely and be willing to do anything for them, even if they take a huge shit right on top of you.  You are doing those things because you love them, not because they have done something to deserve your kindness.

8.  When someone is sick or sad or has a birthday or loses a job or gets married or divorced or has a baby, call them and let them know you heard and you care.  Not in exchange for anything, but because you DO care, because when all is said and done, you are loyal and you keep close to you those who keep you close to them.

9.  Take time to talk to children.  They are curious and their feelings get hurt and too many adults ignore them, beat them, ridicule them.  Too many kids have broken homes with at least one parent who doesn't care.  The moments you take to show interest in them could stick with them for the rest of their lives.

10.  Love the people who love those you love.  If someone sees in your loved ones the same things that you see in them, they can't be all that bad, right?

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