When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time at Grandpa and Grandma Z’s house. Aunt Annie was just a little girl. Uncle Kenny was almost a grownup. Aunt Annie L-O-V-E, loved Deanna. Uncle Kenny was my pal. He was my godfather, too.
I don’t remember that much about Uncle Ken from when I was a little girl, but Grandma Z told me lots of stories and so did Mom. Maybe it was Uncle Kenny’s wedding that I went to with the shiner as big as my Mom’s fist. Of course it wasn’t that big when the wedding came, but still big enough for me to be the center of attention. That was fun.
Grandma told me Uncle Kenny was a bald baby, just like I was. And it took him a while to start talking, just like Vickie. She didn’t want anyone to know he was bald, because then people would think he was a Moron. So she cut a piece of her own hair and sewed it to the inside of his baby bonnet. Just a wisp of a curl sticking out at the front, so people wouldn’t know baby Kenny was bald.
Mom told me Uncle Kenny was a pipsqueak all through high school. I couldn’t even imagine him being small. I guess he grew so fast after high school that Grandma thought his clothes were shrinking. Uncle Kenny always towered above me, so that was hard to imagine. He grew to be almost seven feet tall. Maybe the two of us were growing at the same time.
Uncle Kenny married Aunt Pat and after that he was Uncle Ken. After all, Uncle Ken was an engineer now, he didn’t need to have a little boy’s name attached to him, even though he was our Kenny. Aunt Pat and Uncle Kenny were both tall, dark and handsome, like movie stars. I’m pretty sure I had my super-duper shiner at Uncle Kenny’s wedding; from when my neighbor Nancy’s teaching me to hit a home run, and me watching way too closely, so she whacked me right in the eye.
Anyways, Uncle Kenny, I mean Uncle Ken and Aunt Pat moved all the heck to Maine, and I hardly ever saw them. So Uncle Kenny didn’t know that no one was allowed to call me Delli anymore, on account of that being the name of a city in India, and I never remembered to call him Uncle Ken. And no matter how big I got, Uncle Kenny was as special as ever.
Once when I was all grown up with children of my own, I visited Uncle Ken with Mom and Bonita. Brother and sister told stories about walking to the Fire Station to see Dad (my Grandpa Z) when Kenny was hardly more than a toddler, and how they pranked a neighbor all summer long, because he threw water on them on Halloween. I’ll never forget how those two aged faces transfigured into faces of children. Beautiful.
Uncle Kenny passed away last week. Mom only has one sibling left, and my godfather must guide me from on high. She cried when I recounted my memories of Kenny and how only he still called me Delli and it felt like a hug every time. I told Mom that I always felt special to Uncle Kenny and she said she was pretty sure I was,
“You’re the only one he ever asked about by name,” she said.
“I’ll miss him, even though I hardly ever saw him.” Across the miles, and over the years, Uncle Ken will always light up my heart.