No news… can’t sleep but thought I would tell a story to wind me down.
You see my mom’s brother is a good man. Misunderstood in many ways, but a good man. And he’s in a hospital now, miles away with very little information available to me. So I thought I would tell you some stories about Lev, my uncle.
You see Lev has been deaf since birth. Some screw up at the hospital and Lev came home deaf. My grandparents treated him like gold, helping him overcome his disability. He was smart and sneaky. Growing up I would come over to my grandparents house for the family meal. While dinner was cooking, Lev and I would play chess. I swear he cheated sometimes but the rare time I would win because he was too cocky I would celebrate, telling my father (“Do it again, then come back to tell me”) or my grandfather (“Is Lev sick?”) then come back where Lev would be pantimining and signing me to play one more game.
If I won… he would cry “Fuck” and scatter the pieces. If I lost, I heard the yell “YEAAAAAAASSSSS”, hell everyone heard it.
We’d play football until somebody got hurt. Usually me.
We’d play talk politics, and discuss things that a seven and later in life thirteen year old boy shouldn’t be discussing.
Then he’d talk about stocks and I would show him a stock pick or two in Value Line that I had been following. He’d tell me why I was right, and invest in it, or show me why I was wrong. If we disagreed, we’d go to Grandpa who’d tell us why we were both idiots and wrong.
I ruined the door to one of the cars when we went out to get Chinese food and Lev was driving. I couldn’t shut the door since it had dug into the dirt when all five of us guys who went to get the food got back into the car. Lev tried to back up and my door was still open. BANG right into a New York Fire Hydrant. I tried to tell him that my door wasn’t shut but he didn’t hear me. My fault for not getting his attention and his fault for not having his hearing aid on.
There was plenty of yelling of who did what, but I still remember that day like it is yesterday.
Sometimes I think he used his disability to take advantage of other people, especially my grandmother after grandpa died, but that is neither here nor there.
You see, as good as he was, he would always be distant to others. He lived in a land of silence, sometimes a land that he chose. He worked at the IRS, another reason I always feel like I am going to get audited any year now until he recently retired.
He went in for a simple hernia surgery and had two heart attacks on the table.
We’d argue whenever we see each other, and always dust off the chessboard when we were in town. But when I moved to Lubbock and with him in New York,it was hard to communicate with him.
Then Lev learned that Angie had left.
I walked to the mailbox one day, still trying to think how I was going to get the money I needed to raise to pay off the lawyer for the divorce. And there it was. A thousand dollar check, from him.
“His heart was filled with pain”, the tty operator told me when I called to thank him. “You take this to help start yourself clean Sean.”
I asked the tty operator to ask him why he did this, when I rarely even got a card from him, let alone a call.
“I Love You,” the TTY operator said.
and my heart fell, into a million pieces.
Yes, we have our differences, and yes he still lives in what I still consider my grandparent’s house.
But he’s my Uncle, and I’m worried.
I still have one chess game left in me Lev, do you wanna play?