Daddy's Coming Honey!

The Unc with the Funk

Baby’s uncle came into town this weekend. He brought his two children. They have four legs and one smells like burnt fur and pees everywhere.

Luke and I grew up with two uncles, each with a respective lifestyle that contributed to our other-than-father notions of manhood and mentorship. I know Luke will end up becoming a mixture of our two uncles. Uncle Lyn was part of the family we saw every Sunday until we left for college, a man who has always had a sensible head on his shoulders and juggles everything life throws at him with aplomb. He is a living encyclopedia of practical advice, a compendium of proverbs both financial and motivational. That and he can pack any number of things from any house into any vehicle for any purpose. For years our Uncle Lyn has been a teacher for the youth, a passionate one who transfers more than knowledge. He knows how young ones think, and as critical as he is of the problems that emerge from young generations, he does not dismiss them, but believes in them. He challenges them. This trait I see in my own brother as a youth minister. Another plus: They both are great hiking buddies.

Our Uncle Rick was a different animal. He was a man of the wild, a survivalist who contributed greatly to the Guard family reputation of stubbornness, ingenuity and hijinks. He lived on a farm and owned several horses, cats, dogs, and pigs over the years. At least I think there were pigs. I remember there being pigs. His neighbor owned bees. They never stung us. Christmas time at their house would consist of several wrapped boxes containing everything from turkey calls to homemade slingshots to glass paperweights, pine cones, toilet paper, whistles, dog bones, puzzles, parachuting army men. He made a barbeque sauce that you could store in room temperature (or so he claimed). He made news headlines for using newspaper in his fertilizer. He was a bipolar Jeremiah Johnson. In his later years, he lived in a cabin with his dog, living off whatever he could find without heat or air conditioning. And he loved his nephews. Anyone who remembers him knows one thing: Rick was nuts. The good kind of nuts, the state of mind that gave us memories and stories that would carry on. As a wee one Luke used to call him “Uncle Iggy.” I can’t wait to see my child(ren) run into his arms, shouting “Uncle Oogey, Uncle Oogey.” He already has two dogs and who-knows-what other critters that live in his attic.

I always thought Luke would end up to be that single Uncle who has three dogs and a house covered with strange smells, always some woman named Shianne or Wynona and feeding the kids stuff from cans, and our kids would paint his face while he fell asleep in the lazy chair. Maybe I just fantasized about this. I’ll still make sure my kid paints his face while he sleeps. Luke’s a big boy. I gave him a Santa snuggie for Christmas last year. It was all planned. I’ll have him drive 500 miles down to play Santa for the lil one. He’ll have to cover up his musk and wear a big beard to fool any of my progeny. He was made to be an uncle.

I have several friends vying for auxiliary uncle-ship. Goduncles, if you will. They may only act in his absence. Poor boy decided to stay in Tennessee. He must love that woman. I can see why. It’s how she puts up with him that boggles me. Who am I to talk? It shall be a blessing and an honor to have Lukas T. Guard be the uncle of this child, and perhaps it will also be a curse. Time will tell. I’m just glad Ant Ashton will put him in line.

In memory of Rick Guard, one wild uncle


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