LESLIE CRISS: Doting trio of good uncles a true blessing

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“A family is a unit composed
not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal,
and the common cold.”
– Ogden Nash

“You don’t choose your family.
They are God’s gift to you,
as you are to them.”
– Desmond Tutu

“Family life is a bit like a
runny peach pie – not perfect
but who’s complaining?”
– Robert Brault

My paternal grandmother was one of 10 in a family that ran high to girls. So, I imagine she might have been a bit surprised each time she gave birth to another boy. Four in all.
She voiced no disappointment through the years, but I do recall her saying more than once that she always wondered what it would have been like to have a little girl to dress up in pretty clothes.
My father came first and, as history has it, is the only one of the boys to be born in a hospital.
Jim, Bob and John came later and in that order. All were born at home and delivered by Dr. Criss, their grandfather and my grandmother’s father-in-law.
I’ve no idea how it happened, but all four of my grandmother’s sons had an affinity for arithmetic. All four of them became accountants, with two adding on a law degree.
As one who did not inherit a high tolerance for numbers, I have always found that just a bit odd.
The brothers even went into business together when they were very young. An accounting firm, of course. But one by one they moved on to other jobs, some in other states.
My dad was the first to marry. And when I came along, I was the first grandchild, and the one to make my father’s brothers uncles for the first time.
It was a role at which they excelled.
For at least four full years until my sister came along, I was their adored niece on whom they bestowed wonderful gifts, like an authentic Jamaican marimbula from one of Uncle Bob’s trips to the island.
One Christmas Uncle Jim gave me a shiny blue car with a bright red steering wheel. It was a sporty little number that ran on pedal power and pride.
There was also a red and white juke box that was taller than I was at the time. It was not a real juke box, but it looked like one and played all my favorite records on its turntable.
Yes, I was, for a time, an overindulged child, lovingly spoiled by three good uncles.
More than the gifts, I remember the love and attention they gave me. My grandmother used to remind me how they doted on me, took me along on their dates, bought me burgers at Gus’ Little Widget, baked cookies with me, sat on the floor and spent hours playing with me.
Time passed, as it must. And my trio of adoring uncles married and had children of their own. And now, grandchildren. Our relationships changed.
But recently I talked with Uncle Bob in Auburn, Ala., and he was talking about his adorable granddaughters.
“They remind me of those sweet, beautiful little girls you and Beth used to be,” he said.
Just as I recall fondly the special times spent with my three doting uncles all those years ago, maybe they remember, as well.
I hope so.

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@journalinc.com or (662) 678-1584.