November 3, 2006 at 5:47 PM (Uncategorized) ()

No, this isn’t about a certain well known Ohio Quarterback, or anything else of the present. Since I can’t find anything to write about decently in the present, I will head back for another reminiscence.

It is late summer 1985. My paternal uncle timeshared a cabin large enough to be called a bunkhouse, and he and his fiance hosted my father, myself, his girlfriend, my aunt, and all their families and children…

The van drove from Ohio for what seemed like forever, into a far more remote part of Canada than I was used to seeing. It drove until the road actually stopped, and a friend of my uncle’s advised he would look after the van…we unhitched the boat and motored across part of a huge lake for about an hour and a half. Everything that I knew was “good” about being away from civilization seemed to improve with every mile of distance…bright sun, deep water, green grass, the chance of seeing a bear(!) under carefully choreographed conditions meant to keep us safe, and our “garbage dump” not a temptation for repeat visits. I did see one. From a distance.

We brought partial provisions, but the tiny island the bunkhouse was on provided an abundance of blueberries for pancakes and cobbler, and just-by-themselves, and the waters were full of either pike, walleye or both…after a particularly successful bout of fishing we had a table full of fresh lightly breaded fish and plenty of blueberry derived baking etc.

My uncle, quite pleased with himself (a state he was often in), said, without apology, seeing a family together that wasn’t brought together often, enjoying platefuls of what had been part of nature less than a day before, said, and I quote:

“I can do anything. I must be God!”

“What does that make me?” queried the elder brother, my father, from downtable, rather wryly, “God’s brother?”

“Not!” I howled, laughing…even though it was refreshing to see my father clean and sober, at his best…He was never happier than when telling a bogus “scary camping story” to his nephew and watching the boy shriek with that odd combination of glee and terror that those stories invoke.

I fished that week, and I’ve blogged previously about being dragged out to stargaze late one night. But one coolness seemed out of reach, so I decided not to want it.

There was a fire-circle, up a steep, steep hill, a long walk as well as a sharp grade…and the master of ceremonies insisted by later in the week that we would all be up there for dusk and marshmallows and singing.

I was in the middle of earnestly insisting that this was quite impossible when my uncle grabbed my shoulders and my father my feet, and they slung me between them like some oversized sack of grain and hauled ass up that hill…My uncle was a triathlete, and my father exceedingly motivated to do as good a job as his brother.

They succeeded, and so there was a late afternoon/early evening air of triumph around the circle. I was displeased with the loss of my dignity, and let that be known, but I did enjoy myself, and they showed more careful attention and less sheer athleticism on the way back down.

My uncle and my father: making sure that life was either an insurmountable obstacle or a constant triumph over adversity, and neither had any middle ground in their experience or personality…

My uncle’s family has gone through some real heartache recently…We are in touch, but not often…I wish the overachiever with the knockout smile well, and hope that he’s been able to adapt to pain or adversity, rather than simply dismiss it. Another type of triumph than he’s used to, but a triumph nonetheless.

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