Uncle Dunkel skipped rocks:
he scalloped the sweltering air with a stone.
The man was mythic. He clambered up trees after cats,
strode along ridgepoles,
re-shingled roofs like an urban card shark armed with a royal flush.
Hands that were mostly bruises, blisters, and nicotine stains
hammered and drilled until,
cellar to roof, he built you a house.
Come Sundays, Uncle Dunkel folded his lanky frame,
like a daddy long legs, into our corner nook.
I poured pop from a teapot the size of my fist,
he cradled a tiny rose-sprigged cup.
And never spilled.
How fully engaged with nature, tools, and progress he was—and one small niece.
Did I take Uncle Dunkel’s gentle presence for granted? Sometimes. He didn’t live much beyond my 12th birthday. Given the chance to relive a single day, what might he have longed to witness, one last time?
In Thornton Wilder’s famous play, Our Town, Emily Webb, a young mother who died in childbirth, is allowed to relive one day on earth. Watching the replay of her 12th birthday, she’s overwhelmed by each small moment now incandescent with meaning, each friend and family member suffused with the light of promise.
I can’t bear it, she cries. They’re so young and beautiful.
Emily Webb laments how they take each other for granted, never truly see one another.
I love you all, everything! I can’t look at everything hard enough.
So often what we take for granted, writes Tom Perrota, indicates what it’s like to be alive in our times, in our particular culture.
Granted, there are givens—lots of them—never meant to be taken for granted. I can’t list them for Uncle Dunkel or Emily Webb.
So I start my own list:
- food & shelter
- power & plumbing
and the list grows …
as well as …
and then, unexpectedly …
How can I better re-cherish what is hourly granted, be it commonplace or recherché?
Where might re-cherishing begin for you?
You might also enjoy: Gratitude: develop, break free, generate life
custom engraved plaque by JWL: johnwilliamlindsay.com
tea cup shared with Uncle Dunkel 60 years ago