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Having lived in Hawaii as long as I did and the culture being as beautiful as it is, I've adopted much of it, making the aloha spirit a part of who I am. One thing about living in Hawaii, almost anyone and everyone can be refered to as "Uncle" or "Auntie." From children addressing adults, to adults referencing those who are significantly older than them; one does not have to be a blood relation to receive such a title. I suspect it may be like it was 'back in the day,' when people used to use "Sir" or "Maam" or "Mr." or "Miss" or "Mrs." when addressing others, including outside the classroom. In Hawaii, my family and I came to the point of addressing the wahine (woman) who used to regularly bag our groceries at the KTA supermarket as "Auntie."
I'm the oldest of four girls and I remember a few years ago my baby sister Jennifer (she's 27 now) expressed her displeasure about this. Apparently, she didn't feel sharing such a title with those who weren't 'kin' somehow demeaned her. I had to explain some who have titles which may seem honorary really don't mean much when a relationship doesn't exist. When a relationship has formed, regardless of blood relation or not, this is a beautiful way to show honor and respect, without extreme formality. By no means should she view her role as somehow being diminished. She does love my boys and loves being an Auntie.
This being said, even though I've only had three Uncles of blood relation, there are several others who I've addressed as "Uncle." My husband has a HUGE family so of course through marriage, I acquired a lot more Uncles. This however is besides the point of what I'm about to share since my favorite Uncle incidentally does happen to be a blood relation; my dad's brother and best friend, my Uncle Craig.
Let me tell you about my Uncle Craig; he's cool and kinda crazy - in a good sort of way. He is COOL, so just remember that. He is my mom's classmate and I think he was popular since I know he was (is) a good looking man and very 'stylin.' I bet many of the girls in school must have had a crush on him... I'm making a mental note to ask my mom! I believe he's always for the most part, acted as a gentleman. I admire his taste in cool cars....I remember him having a yellow Camaro (73?) that I always hoped he'd give me. Of course, that's just material and really unimportant.
Uncle Craig has the most peculiar laugh; at times he almost sounds like he's hyperventilating. I think he must suck a bit of wind when he laughs. Like him, his laugh is original and unique indeed.
My mom became pregnant with me shortly after she and my dad were married. Before my parents bought their first house (I was about three I think) I remember they lived in an apartment in southern California. I remember enjoying life there, swimming in the pool and diving for pennies. One day when I was bored, I went around the complex with my plastic jack-o- lantern bucket and knocked on doors and exclaimed 'trick or treat' to the surprise of those who answered since it wasn't even close to October 31st. I don't remember this next part, but surely my Uncle Craig will never forget it. He and I shared a room for a time and he'd come home after partying one night and someone had an accident involving my magnitized peg board desk (which also had the option of playing with magnetized letters of the alphabet). The part of the story that I'm finding difficulty keeping the facts straight is this...either he 'ralphed' in my desk because he had too much to drink, or he came home and tossed me around, playful man that he is and I did the ralphing. I do remember this detail, I guess the pegs and letters were floating in a very unpleasant substance.
My explanation for being unclear about this detail is because Uncle Craig always took time out to play with us kids growing up. He also has a son, one of my two cousins, and he always loved to leave the grown ups to come and get us all wound up (which often resulted in irritation for my step mom). We adored him for it AND he was the most awesome tickle monster ever.
He also used to do this human amusement park ride stunt with us and unfortunately for me, being the oldest and the biggest, he was only able to perform this easily (without it being dangerous) on a couple of occassions after he concocted the idea. My younger sisters and my cousin were able to enjoy this much longer than I. One of the disadvantages of being the oldest I guess - boo hoo! Anyway, Uncle Craig would have us one at a time, lay on our backs with our ankles and wrists from the same side of the body being grabbed by his big strong hands. His legs were spread so he could swing us through, kind of like a reverse catapult. He'd swing a little and say "a -one" then swing us much higher and say "a - two" and finally, "a - three," and on 'a - three' we'd find ourselves sitting on his shoulder!
So my sisters names are Cindy, Arianne and Jennifer and my cousin is Todd. Nobody in my family calls me Christine, everyone calls me "Chrissy." Uncle Craig, with his crazy imagination would tell these bizarre stories which resulted in fits of laughter. They were The Chronicles of Sissy, Kin -dee, Toady, Hairy-pan, and Jellyfur. They were as off the wall as you can get...I remember one episode that went something like this "....all the kids were walking down to the Roosevelt Store for candy or icecream when all of a sudden, up in the sky above was a helicopter in distress! It was spinning out of control and suddenly, the propeller came flying off! It headed straight for Sissy and sliced her vertically in half and she continued down the road in two pieces, like nothing ever happened, one half on one side of the road and the other half on the other, some may have thought she had a twin! So then the propeller bounces off the road and flys through a cow field and slices the udder off a cow and the udder goes flying and it lands on Toady's head! It gets stuck.... so Toady is walking down the street, trying to get this udder off his head but it just looks like he's trying to milk himself, mostly human but one part cow!"
He'd take us to the graveyard at night sometimes and tell more C.K.T.H.J.Chronicle stories... one time he and my dad decided to play a joke on us. I was old enough to suspect something was up though when I saw my dad heading down the road in his yellow VW bug after the rest of us had already arrived at the cemetery. I thought it odd, figuring he must need to head to the store to pick up something for dessert, but more beer or wine or something. Anyway, most of us get all situated on top of headstones and Uncle Craig starts to tell us another crazy story. Not long into it, we see this white thing appearing to float, moving in between the trees coming closer towards us...my heart leaped in my chest but within a second or two, I figured it out. My dad was concealed by a sheet, a diving mask or googles secured to his head, and galloped through the wooded graveyard, flapping his arms at the same time. All my siblings and my cousin, ranging from 3 1/2 - 13 years younger than I, all began to really freak out, perhaps with the exception of my sister Cindy. If she did, I bet she internalized it, but I don't really recall. Todd was the first to calm down. So of course the caregiver is wondering what in the world was going on out there and we split pretty quick after that.
After I moved to Hawaii, prior to getting married and starting a family of my own, my Uncle Craig came to the Big Island with his new bride, having divorced and remarried within the span of a handful of years. (Incidentally, I'm very close to his first wife - she is precious to me too). There were several other trips he and my new Auntie made to Hawaii prior to our leaving the island and he and Auntie Ginger have always been very gracious to us. Honestly, I can't ever recall a time I haven't enjoyed his (or her) company or any conversations we've had. When my dad passed away in May of 2003, we all gathered in California to grieve together. My Uncle Craig said something to me - and I know he said it to my sisters as well - which is special and precious to me since I know he meant it from the bottom of his heart. He said, "I want you to know with your dad being gone now, if there is anything you ever would have gone to him for, I want you to know I'm here and you can come to me."
I have shared, from the deepest recesses of my heart, things with my Uncle Craig. He and my Auntie Ginger are truly a blessing to me and my family and it is a great comfort to know they are there for us and I am loved by them. I hope through my love for them, they see themselves blessed by me as well. I so look forward to the next chance we get to spend some time together.