Friday, May 3, 2013


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. I don't know if I've told you yet, I don't think so, but I am about to be an Uncle again - twice. My sisters are both expecting girls. I am very excited about this. Being an Uncle is cool. You already know this and I'm sure you are just in awe of my coolness.
Maybe not.
You might not think I'm very cool, Temple, you may think that I'm out of touch and forgotten how to be cool. That's where your logic fails you. I'm so cool that I don't even remember HOW to be cool. This makes sense. Don't argue with me.
Let's move on.
I like waiting for more children to come into my life. Kids are an important blessing. My sisters and their husbands are good people. These little persons are fortunate to be being born to such caring and loving people.
It's good being the Uncle for another reason, Temple, I have children being born into my family and I don't have to DO anything. I just get to be excited. I don't have any real responsibility toward raising, caring, funding or anything else for these children. My interactions with them are basically based on what my sisters are willing to allow me (just because I'm family doesn't mean I'm entitled to anything.) I feel fortunate that I have good relationships with both my sisters and we are willing to actively be involved in each other's lives.
Sounds kind of like a legal contract rather than a relationship, but I've found that it's good to be careful about these things. I'll tell you why.
When my father died (yes I'm talking about that again - there were a lot of poignant lessons during that time) I had a lot of interactions with close family and veritable strangers that ran the gamut from caring and helpful to completely inappropriate and destructive. A friend of mine, Philip Rhodes, told me something very wise that I've kept with me.
"Go have a beer," he said. He is a very wise man.
There was something else he told me that was also very insightful.
He said, "People do all sorts of odd things during emotionally charged events like funerals. People say crazy things that they don't mean. They laugh and they don't know why or feel like they shouldn't be laughing. Some people are good at these things. Some people just fall apart. Most of them don't know what they should do - and they are usually the worst of the lot."
"What should I do?" I said.
"Watch them," he said, "Take notes."
That's just what I did. I paid real close attention to people, what they were saying or doing. I paid closest attention to the people who shined. Those that knew how to comfort. Those that knew when to help and when to get out of the way. Those who said just the right thing at just the right time. I also made sure to note what the destructive people did. I watched every time they chose selfishness over empathy. I watched every time they followed their own agenda, fulfilling their own desires over those really in need. I listened to every destructive or careless word they said. I took good notes, Temple, and I do my best to model myself after people who model what I hope to attain to be.
Being a good Uncle is easy. It's so easy, that it's easy to mess up and I'm not going to do that.
I get to be excited that I get to have more children in my life.
If my sisters were the type of parents (which they are not) that don't like anyone to touch or hold their babies, if I had to admire this new life from across the room. That would be enough for me because I get to be an Uncle and am excited that my sister's are having children.
If they didn't want me to visit for a year, for whatever reason, and I had to wait until the child's first birthday to see her. That would be enough for me because I get to be an Uncle and am excited that my sister's are having children.
They can make whatever rules they want and I don't care. I have no expectations of them or the baby. I just get to be excited, and I am.
My sisters are having kids and I get to be an Uncle.
I felt much the same way when you were born. I love you much and miss you always,
Uncle Justin

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