(From a work in progress)
The heart knew it was 55 years ago that you last went to that restaurant with your uncle. Do you say something to him?
Probably not because back then you were a child who was too small to even look out of the backseat of his car and see the snow covered streets, streets with no one but children who had been forced from their home during another Sunday night alcohol fueled rage. Do you say something, hoping he would remember?
Do you look at him and realize that back then he was barely more than a teenager himself, so young and proud of his red 1963 Chevy with back then unheard of features of automatic windows and doors. I drove all the way from the city to pick up the kids, your uncle said, so they wouldn’t be walking in that empty field or the swamp.
You look at your uncle and realize he’s nearly 80 now. You look at his hands that have had dozens of operations from damage done during the lifespan of a laborer.
Yet he still has that boyish smile, the quick wit, the quick temper.
But he’s 80 and you’re not eight years old anymore. You have a career, an education, a loving kind spouse.
But this is a gratitude 55 years in the making , for taking a child off the street that night, making jokes, buying hot chocolate, anything other than spending a cold winter night alone outside.
You can’t say thank you for that to an 80-year-old uncle. You just can’t. You’ve never spoken about it.
You reach across the table, take the check, walk to the counter and pay.