Jilda and I never had children of our own. I like to think we would have been good parents. We have been fortunate in our lives because Jilda’s brother Ricky and his wife Deb live next door, and …
Jilda and I never had children of our own. I like to think we would have been good parents. We have been fortunate in our lives because Jilda’s brother Ricky and his wife Deb live next door, and they had three kids. And each of them grew up and had children of their own. One of them had enough kids for a volleyball team. Having plenty of young’uns nearby gave me an opportunity to serve in another important role — Uncle Rick. Let me explain. One of my “uncle duties” is to fix things. When my niece Samantha had a flat in the boonies last year, she called me. When she needed a new fridge, she asked me to go with her so that the salesman didn’t jack her around. I helped her when she bought her first new car. I’m not whining. I’m flattered that she asks for my help. That’s a service I provide.
Fast forward to this past week. My day at work was winding down when I got a call on my cell. When I looked at the phone, a smiling picture of my niece was on the screen. She never calls me at work. Hmmm, I thought. Something’s up.
She sounded stressed. Her mom usually picks up my great nephew Jordan, but she was stuck in an unending meeting at the board of education. She asked if there was any way I could pick up “the kid” from school. I told her, “Of course.” A few minutes later, she called back and said her mom was supposed to pick up my great nephew Anthony, too. “Not a problem. I’m all over it,” I told her. Some uncles might feel put out by this chore, but I love it. We always have the best time together.
At 2:45 p.m., the grammar school is a madhouse. The city has police there to direct traffic. Hundreds of “walkers” come out front so that their parents, grandparents and uncles can collect them. Walkers are kids who don’t ride the bus. I’m on the approved list for all my nieces and nephews. I’m the designated standby kid picker-upper. It’s a duty I take seriously.
Both boys were smiling when they saw me standing in the crowd. With one on each hand, we headed to the truck and I buckled them in. Tugging their seatbelts tight enough to make them grunt always makes them giggle.
Before putting the truck in gear, I handed my phone to Jordan, and told him to do a selfie of us all. He knows more about my phone than I do. With a few taps, it was ready and then he said SMILE. A few more clicks and he’d texted it to his mom so she’d know I’d picked up “The Packages.”
I smiled as we drove toward home. It might not sound like much, but uncle duty is a valued service. If you don’t believe me, just ask a single mom who’s working a fulltime job.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, “Life Goes On,” is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.