I can’t tell you his middle name. I can’t tell you my first memory of him. I am not sure how we turned his given name from Cody to Pody and he’s not really my uncle. I can tell you that when he smiled he reminded me of Santa with his rosy cheeks and twinkling eyes. I can tell you that his moustache tickled. I can tell you that I used to love the smell of his cigarette smoke.
He lived next door. He was our neighbor and we went to the same church. His wife died from cancer when I was 3. I was the 3rd girl born to my parents and about the time Aunt Lucy died, my younger, long awaited little brother was born and I think that Uncle Pody and I kind of became two lost souls that grafted together.
He worked at a local plant and would come home in grease stained blue coveralls that were worn and had worked hard. His hard hat was yellow and it would be tucked under his arm and in his other hand would be his metal lunch bucket – the kind with the hard black plastic handle. He’d get out of his truck to find me greeting him there. You see, I watched for him. He’d stop in his tracks, spread his legs out into a stance and say something like, “Well, what do we have here?” or he might say, “HEY, Penny Rooskie!”.
I would follow him in the house and I’d watch him put away his hat and his lunch bucket and then we’d curl up on his brown nubby fabric-covered corner sectional, facing each other as we sat on the opposite sides of the angle. We’d talk about our days and sometimes we would take a nap together, too.
My parents knew if they couldn’t find me at dinner time, to come knocking next door.
Uncle Pody loved me. He needed me. He was always there for me. Sometimes all we need is a friend that will watch for us, let us curl up on their couch, and share the day. The naps are always optional.
Uncle Pody is gone now. He eventually remarried and moved to a neighboring community. I of course grew up and went to school and married and moved on. He was at my wedding – in a blue seersucker suit. It meant so much that he was there. I would go see him when home for Christmases. He’s gone now. I couldn’t bear to go to his funeral. I like to see him in my mind – coming in from the truck in his blue coveralls, happy to see Penny Rooskie.