Hovering Over Send Chapter 5

  • Published
  • By Col. Daryl J. Hartman
  • 911th Airlift Wing Operations Group
My Uncle George is the most mellow man I've ever met....... He passed away last Thursday, 0300, quietly. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.

I think I need to dedicate a couple weeks to Uncle George stories.

Uncle George sang in the church choir. He didn't have a booming voice like my brother Tim, but a smooth soft bass which, like him, blended with everyone. We had choir practice every Wednesday night and the whole family went. You either sang when you got to the point your voice didn't crack anymore or you sat and listened and learned. During the summer we all took turns, after choir practice, going home with Uncle George who shared a house with our Grandmother. We always fought over whose turn it was to partake in the joys of spending a night with Grandma and, as grandmas are prone to do, getting spoiled. Well, on this particular warm summer Wednesday in 1968, it was my turn.

Oh yes, there's one other piece of information critical to this story. There was a woman in our church, a rather large woman, who Uncle George would drive home every Wednesday after choir practice. She was a lovely lady whom I had known pretty much known my whole life but she had a deathly fear of water, and on a warm summer evening in an un-airconditioned church the combination could be, let's say, problematic. Let's call her Mrs. X. Mrs. X only lived three blocks from the church so it wasn't a long ride, but the ride that night would put even the mellowness of Uncle George to the test.

I dove into the backseat of Uncle George's two door Dodge with visions of ice cream before bed and Capt Crunch for breakfast dancing in my head but as Mrs. X fell into the front seat and slammed the door shut I slowly, inexorably began to lose my appetite. There was an odor floating through the car like none I had ever encountered.

By the end of the first block I felt it necessary to air my concerns to Uncle George and, as most 12 year olds do, I expressed it as diplomatically as possible. "Uncle George, something really stinks in here!" In true Uncle George fashion he calmly replied, "It must be something outside, maybe the wind is blowing up from ALCOSAN" (the local sewage treatment plant). So to test the plausibility of his theory, I popped open the little back window and poked my nose outside.

The second block. "No, it's not outside, it's definitely in the car and I'm not feeling so good". Now the mellow was starting to show a little wear around the edges. "Maybe a mouse got in the trunk and died" he postulated. Well being the science geek kid that I was I, of course, came up with a theory that I thought more closely fit the evidence at hand, "I don't think it's a dead mouse, I think it's a dead fish!"

The third block. If I had looked closer or if it had been light outside, I would have seen Uncle George quivering, but I didn't and it wasn't so my next comment was; "I'm really feeling sick Uncle George. I think I might throw up". Mustering every ounce of mellowness from the deepest depth of his soul he said; "We'll figure it out when we get home". Seconds later we were at Mrs. X's front door. She flung open the door, rolled out and thanked Uncle George for the ride. With the sound of the slamming door still ringing in my ears, Uncle George slowly turned around in his seat and on his face was a look I don't think anyone had ever seen. It looked like he was using facial muscles he had never used and it looked painful. He wasn't well versed in anger, but he did the best with what he had. "That smell was Mrs. X. She's afraid of water and that includes baths. Don't you ever do that to me again!" Still shaking, he turned around, dropped the shifter into drive, and drove home. We never spoke of it again. 43 years and it was like it never happened. But, I think I'm the only person that ever made Uncle George mad.

What is the nature of forgiveness. We think we forgive, but do we really? We hold grudges and look differently at people that have wronged us even after years have passed. Let it go, set it aside, forget, forgive. Forgive as you have been forgiven.