Today is my Uncle Perk's 86th birthday and it will be his last birthday. Right after Thanksgiving we found out that Uncle Perk has brain, liver and lung cancer and the doctor said he didn't have long. A lot of the family got together on Saturday to spend time with him and there were so many things I wanted to say to him but I just couldn't. I couldn't because I knew I would cry and if I started to cry I wouldn't be able to stop so instead I am writing the things I wanted to say to him in this post and if I cry no one will see me...I am an ugly crier, very ugly. Today my Aunt Betty informed us that Uncle Perk is not doing well at all today and that Hospice said he probably only has a few more days on this earth.
|Uncle Perk - Christmas 2010|
I was probably 16 years old before I knew that Uncle Perk's name was not Perk. I was down at my Aunt Betty's, at that time they lived out on the farm with us in what we called "down the field", and picked up a letter that said "Charles Belcher". I asked Aunt Betty if someone sent them the wrong mail and that is when she told me his name was Charles. I still laugh at myself for thinking his name was actually Perk. To me he was never Charles and never will be, he will always be Uncle Perk.
My own father died right before my 19th birthday and Uncle Perk filled that void in my life. Although he was not as affectionate as my father he was someone I could always look up too and always did. There are many things I have to thank my Uncle Perk for, too many things to even list here or ever have the time to explain. He has never been a man of many words but I always thought his words counted and I would hang on to every word he would ever say because in my world he is one of the 3 smartest men that ever walked this planet. The other two were my Uncle Johnny and my cousin Jonathan, who was the son of Uncle Perk and Aunt Betty. If I ever needed an answer to a crossword puzzle I knew Uncle Perk would know the answer. I can't remember a time I asked Uncle Perk a question and he didn't have an answer for me. At times they were smart ass answers and he would laugh after telling me the answer because he knew I always believed him. Along with being smart Uncle Perk has a great sense of humor...smart ass as it may be.
Uncle Perk was always there when I needed him and there were many times I needed him. By trade Uncle Perk has always been a mechanic and I swear that man could fix anything. When I was a teenager he was always working on one thing or another and I was always fascinated with how things worked. I would stand out there with him at times and bombard him with questions. If I ever got on his nerves with my questions he never let me know it. He would answer the questions one after another and always explain things in a way that I understood. Years later this would work out tremendously to my advantage because he and I would play phone mechanic. I would call my Aunt Betty and tell her what the problem was and she would holler "Perk, Shirley's on the phone and her car is acting up". She would explain to him what I said the car was doing and the noise it was making and every dang time he was able to tell me exactly what was wrong with it, where to locate the problem, what part to get and how to change it out. One time I was having problems and he suggested I change my battery from a side post to a top post and this would require me using a hacksaw, which I had *okie doesn't even remember why she would have a hacksaw at the age of 22* and replacing cable ends and some other things. I had just finished up the job and was getting ready to close the hood and the my Uncle Perk pulled up. I looked at him, with probably some sort of dumbfounded expression and asked "what are you doing here?" and he replied "I was afraid you might not be able to get it done so I came down to do it", coming down meant a 45 minute drive from the farm to Ada where I live. He looked under the hood and said "HUH! Looks like you got it done right". We sat around and visited for a few minutes before he left. He and Aunt Betty moved back to Ohio not long after that and he couldn't just drive down and check on my handy work but I think he had faith in my meager mechanic skills after that point.
I never held back in saying that Uncle Perk is my favorite Uncle and I always never held back in letting him know I am his favorite niece, whether he wanted to admit it or not. I am going to miss that ornery ol man more than he will ever know. I learned so many things from him from gardening to mechanics to even finding out that men could cook and look after themselves, which was something my dad sure couldn't do. He has always been able to debate current events, which was always a lot of fun...at least for me, or talk about what was going on locally. Any subject I would bring up it always seemed Uncle Perk knew something about the subject. It's just not possible for me to write all the things this magnificent man has done for me over the years, nor is it possible for me to ever thank him enough. So all I can do is write up one last message to him....
You have always been there for me, you have helped see me through the death of both of my parents. Anytime I talked with Aunt Betty about things that were bothering me you were always there to listen as well, maybe not speaking much but it seems what few words you did say were ones that always helped. Thank you for helping me become an independent person and make me feel like I can and have accomplished things, no matter if it was changing a headlight to finishing college. The world is gonna be a little more dumb after you leave us because we won't have your wisdom and knowledge to take advantage of anymore.
Thank you for the grunts after I would tell you "I love you". I know for some people it isn't easy to say those 3 little words but I knew by your grunt you were saying "I love you too". I know the last words I said to you on Saturday were "Love you" and you softly grunted your reply and I smiled to myself thinking "yep, he loves me".
Thank you Uncle Perk for being my favorite Uncle and allowing me to be your favorite niece *sarcastic grin here*. While I will miss you for the rest of my life I think it is more important to let you know I have loved you all of my life that I have known you.
Your Favorite Niece