My Uncle Henry


Iíll never forget what my uncle told me. He was my uncle on my motherís side. Thatís not what he told me. I knew that already because lots of people in my family said he was ďuncle on momís sideĒ and if that isnít testimony enough Iíll challenge anyone to show me different. Differently? Which is it? Whatís it supposed to be, an adjective or an adverb. I sometimes get these mixed up.


You know the oneís that (which?) really trouble me? Theyíre that and which. I donít think I get them right half the time. What I mean to say is I do think I get them right about half the time. But, of course, thatís just wishful thinking.


His name was Arthur. For some reason we all called him Henry. There is a story that goes along with why Arthur we called Henry. I say itís a ďcuteĒ story but thatís not what my aunt would have called it. One time I heard her call it apocryphal. Apocryphal? No, that canít be right. Now I remember. She called it appalling.


With the passage of time (and my uncle and aunt) it has gravitated to ďcute.Ē Did you know that long ago before my auntís time, and before Henryís time too, cute didnít mean cute. It meant something else.


I know you are waiting to hear the story and I am poised to tell it if youíll just humor me a moment to make sure I have all the preliminaries in place for a full accounting and appreciation for it, i.e. the story. What would it matter to you if I told the story only to have you left with a lot of questions I couldnít answer. That wouldnít make me look very up on my familyís things, I can assure you.


My auntís name was Rose. She was named after her mother, which would make her my great aunt Rose. The first of the two Roses. The second Rose was my aunt. Have I made a complete blunder of this or not? My first aunt Rose wasnít my aunt, she was my grandmother. If she was my aunt because she was married to my uncle who was my motherís brother, sheíd be my grandmotherís daughter-in-law.


Well I never. Now Iím confused. I think Iíve admitted it before, Iím not very good at mathematics. And the ďwasĒ and ďwereĒ question, the ďsubjunctiveĒ I think itís called, really pops my cork.


Henry and Rose did not have any children and I have to believe thatís a good thing for me because I would have had a hard time telling them apart. Iím not proficient in the kid arena.


If there are no more interruptions Iíll get to the story now. It seems that, well, it doesnít seem, it actually was. My aunt was at home and my uncle was not. I donít know where he was. Nobody who told the story ever said where he was. It is not relevant anyway. Then he got home and when he came through the door my aunt called out, ďIs that you, Henry?Ē The name (Henry) stuck to him (Arthur) ever since that.


Some of my other relatives always laughed when they told or heard that story. Frankly, I didnít see any humor in it, but I was fairly young.


Now I remember why I started this whole thing. It was what Iíll never forget what my uncle told me. It was, ďDonít ever tell that story about me and your aunt.Ē