My Uncle Jack

I always imagined that every family had someone like my Uncle Jack. Now I’m missing him & wishing I had known him better on this Earth.

After my Dad passed away when I was a toddler, Uncle Jack was the man who stepped in to try to be a father figure. He was my Mom’s brother. I think he was still very young himself and didn’t really know how to be that role. But he tried. He used to come over sometimes and roughhouse with me and take my Mom out to dinner. He gave me a hurtful nickname and told my Mom I was too fat. (I was 2 years old when he started calling me ‘Butterball’ – which I already knew was not a compliment).

Uncle Jack had enlisted in the Air Force and served for several years. He wasn’t a pilot but he did learn how to fly a plane in the Air Force. When he got out of the service he bought a little 2-seat private plane and he used to take me for joy rides in it. I was scared to go with him because I didn’t think he knew how to fly very well. I was probably right.

He got married and had a couple of kids. Family rumor had it that “his wife made him” get rid of his airplane. Family rumor also had it that she was a mean spirited person who destroyed him. That probably wasn’t true. She seemed like a nice lady to me. She was a grade school teacher. She was a different ethnicity than our family which is why I think our family had prejudiced thoughts about her.

My Uncle Jack developed a serious drinking problem. One night when he was drunk he had a total breakdown. He held his family at gunpoint in the basement for several hours until the police rescued them and arrested him. His wife divorced him and he went into a mental institution.

While he was in the mental institution he found Jesus. They started letting him out on weekend passes and that’s all he ever would talk about was Jesus and the Bible. Our family, who were not Christians, believed that he just substituted one addiction (Jesus) for another (alcohol). He eventually was released from the mental institution and died of lung cancer not too long after that.

I never really talked to him about Jesus. I was still pretty young, and my family told me to ignore him when he started talking about religion. So I did.

I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately.

I’m sorry we treated you so badly Uncle Jack. I hope you are with Jesus in Heaven.

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