My Uncle Morris
My mother’s oldest brother, Morris, was the only one in this side of the family who lived far away from all of us, in Chicago. He usually came to visit on Thanksgiving and I remember being a bit frightened, (or intimidated) by him. He was sharp with the question asking, and I was often unsure if I had answered correctly in his eyes. All the rest of the year I felt loved and appreciated by all my relatives, and if you have read some of my other writing about different uncles, aunts, and grandparents, you would see what I mean. I spent great time with them, learned from them, and did not feel judged.
As I look back on the few moments I had with my uncle Morris, I think that my feelings were mixed because the time was so short, and I wanted to be noticed, to be approved. I remember as a very young little girl, I show him that I can tie my shoes. I remember reading to him, showing how I could read. And, linked so much with him, I remember his wife, Dolores, who was purely a city girl who hated the little town where my grandparents lived, and was afraid of all things outdoors. She mostly stayed in the bedroom upstairs when they visited, only appearing for meals, and eating very little. She remained a curiosity to me most all my life. In my early teen years, one visit, she took me aside and asked if I’d like her to show me about make-up. She wore lots of make-up, a topic of talk among the family after their visit, and I of course loved the idea of trying to be more beautiful. That visit remains a highlight in my memories of Uncle Morris and Aunt Dolores visiting. My mother was kind enough to let the make-up adventure stand as that, an adventure. She knew I’d return to my un-made-up self when the weekend was done.
One other memory stands out for me and I wonder about it still. Uncle Morris was a golden gloves boxer, and one visit he showed me and other older cousins several moves that could be used for self-defense. These older cousins were boys, so maybe he included me just because we were a group, and I suspect the lesson was meant just for boys. My mother had much love and told many good stories to me about her older brother, and the way he took care of her as his ‘little’ sis. He was an intense, successful businessman in a place so foreign to us in rural Missouri. I am interested in him because he was so loved by my mother, and he died in his early fifties from a heart attack, so I never really got to know him when I became an adult. I think I missed something special.