My Uncle P is a mechanic. I have never seen him purchase a new car. This makes sense; he knows how cars work, how to make them run, how to fix and maintain them. He doesn’t need to buy a new car– he knows how to make any car run like new.
I have never had much of a relationship with my mother’s younger brother beyond visits to his gas station, first with my parents, then on my own. If anyone in the family had car trouble, he was the one to call. I spoke to him very little on my visits to have my oil changed or to have him check on my engine. I was always intimidated by him; he seemed to have the same stern temperament that my grandmother had. When I was in elementary school, we lived in the same house five days a week, nine months a year, for seven years, but we never bonded the way I bonded with my younger uncles.
As the eldest son, he must have been under so much pressure to succeed, to help support his younger brothers and sister, to buy the house that Grandmother B would live in for the rest of her life. Now he is married, has paid off that house, has bought another house in which he is raising his family. His temperament has mellowed since my cousins were born and I am learning not to look at him with the same intimidated eight-year-old’s eyes. I am learning to reach out to him.
Throughout high school and college, I have found many people who are close enough to call family. It is natural, as we age, to find others who share common interests, goals, circumstances.
I need to learn from my Uncle P. He is not afraid to put time and energy into making an old, used vehicle work; I should not be afraid to put time and energy into building the relationship with my family that I have, for the most part, left to rust over the last ten years.