For many years, my great aunt and uncle (L and O) lived on the farm with my great grandparents to help take care of the place. O (husband of my great aunt) was a retired plumber and was always the black sheep of the family, though I really don’t know exactly why people didn’t like him. I didn’t like him – he didn’t seem to like me much either. People were always mad at him and talked bad about him. He could do nothing right.
My father had two female first cousin sisters who were 2 and 6 years
older than me, and who visited the farm occasionally with their mother (sister to my grandmother and L). They were blonde and giggly girly-girl
types (nothing like me). If O was sitting on a chair and one of them walked
close enough, he would grab her and pull her onto his lap to sit. He would hold her until
she started to cry. Was he some kind of pervert? My impression of him for as
long as I can remember was that he was creepy, so I avoided speaking to him or
getting close. I imagine every family has someone like that in it.
One time, O put my brothers and me to work on a very hot summer afternoon. I think I was about 10 years old. He gave us three shovels and promised us a few dollars each if we’d dig a ditch that would probably take two men a day to dig. Anyway, I started out all gung-ho and excited at the prospect of going to the store with paper money in my pocket. It was sunny and at least mid-90 degrees that day. O sat in the shade in a lawn chair smoking a cigar and listening to a baseball game on the radio. My hands had thick calluses but were no match for ground that was hard clay. It didn’t take long for blisters to form. Not only that, O kept honey bee hives not far from the site where we were digging. Random honey bees and carpenter bees were buzzing around us – not really threatening to sting but their presence was enough to put me on edge. It was hot, I was thirsty, my hands were sore, so I decided to quit. My brothers continued to work as I dropped the shovel and walked off the job. My uncle called,“Where do you think you’re going?” I pretended not to hear and kept walking. Next thing I know, he grabbed my arm. I spun around and kicked him squarely in the shin as hard as I could. He let go and I took off running. A few minutes later, my brothers came running up behind me to catch up. We left O to finish his own ditch.