Going to my mother’s family to visit wasn’t my favorite thing. My grandmother, aunt and uncle and cousin lived together in the large Victorian home that had been in the family for 100 years. But it wasn’t fun. It was the age when little girls wore dresses, at least at my grandmother’s house!
My brothers would go off to play with my cousin (obviously a boy); my mother would gather in the kitchen with my aunt and my grandmother; and my father would chat with my uncle.
I was usually left to myself to read.
My brothers and cousin would be off romping in the woods or climbing in the barn. I yearned to be with them but it wasn’t “proper” in a dress.
These relatives were of the stricter Christian variety, and I emphasize the word “strict”. No TV on Sunday, no makeup ever, no movies, and no shorts or slacks for little girls, etc. My parents honored the house rules while we were there.
I did a lot of reading – always a good thing. They had a lot of classics in that old house so it was to my benefit, sort of. However, one can only read so many books on a visit.
Basically, I was bored.
My Uncle Leslie was an interesting fellow. My father really didn’t enjoy his company and missed watching sports on TV whenever we visited, but I liked Uncle Leslie.
When he was six years old, he contracted polio. After he recovered, he was ok from the waist up. However, his legs were shriveled and he “walked” on crutches. He made do and always had a cheerful attitude. The world was not “accessible” back then. His office was a full flight of stairs up and I witnessed him going up one step at a time, which apparently he did every day of his working life.
After he, my aunt and my cousin moved in with my grandmother, although their bedroom was on the main floor, again the bathroom was a full flight of stairs away. Eventually, a bathroom was added to the main floor, thankfully.
Back to our family visits, frequently Uncle Leslie would seek me out and ask me if I wanted to hear a story. Of course, I’d say yes and he would begin the tales of Angie the Angle Worm. This went on for several years. There were many tales of Angie the Angle Worm.
I honestly cannot remember one story except that they were silly and funny, but I remember the kindness of my uncle. I’m pretty sure he made up the stories on the spot. My aunt once remarked that she wished she had written them down.
He didn’t need to do that. No other relative in the house reached out. And I didn’t expect them to. But he did and I was blessed. It’s a special memory and an act of kindness I hope to emulate.
And maybe – maybe one day, in his honor, I’ll write some stories of my own about Angie the Angle Worm.