Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Memories of "Uncle Dad"

Lt to Rt Top Row, Stephen, Maryleah, "Uncle Dad" and "Nanny"
Bottom Row, Michael, Cousins Wayne, Janet and Me
Taken abt 1966-1967 in Lakeview, Harbour Main NFLD

Most families, you will find, have special names for their grandparents, they may use traditional titles or modified versions created by the grandchildren.  In our family we called our grandfather "Uncle Dad". My older sister MaryLeah gave him this title, the story goes something like this.  When my sister was very little (she is the oldest of us four),  my mother took her home to visit her family in Newfoundland.  There were many Uncles for her to get to know, Uncle George, Uncle Ray, and Uncle Bill.  My sister heard my mother call her father "Dad", so then my sister not knowing what to call him, just added Uncle to the beginning and his title became "Uncle Dad"  It did not take long before the rest of us did the same. 
Living so far away from my grandparents made it challenging to get to know them. Distance, time apart and childhood insecurities often got in the way, and by the time you warmed up and felt comfortable, it was time to head home. I would say I was closer to  "Nanny" my grandmother than I was to my grandfather "Uncle Dad".  Now, as an adult, I wish that I had gotten to know him a little better.
My grandfather was a very tall, thin, quiet man, "a man of few words", which made it difficult to converse with him. He was very serious and sometimes  extremely stern in his ways. I learned later in life that he did have many health issues, that possible were the reason for his discontent. I do remember though, and I don't think I will ever forget each time I came to visit my grandparents in Lakeview, Harbour Main, my grandfather would go into the cellar and get his axe along with some rope. He went out the back door and began cutting wood, making the seat of a swing that he would fasten to rope and hang from a branch of the Ash Tree, located just outside the back door. When he was finished, I quickly jumped on the swing and he would go back in the house and sit at the kitchen table looking out the window watching me swing. Very few words were exchanged, but this act made a long lasting impression on this little girl.


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