Saturday, November 1, 2014

May, 2001 - A Poem To My Uncle Frank

Forgive me, friends, for I have sinned.  It's been a month since my last poem.  There are no excuses, Rest assured, I'll be mercilessly berating myself over the next few days for this, my unforgivable, transgression.

Today's poem:
Frank's Mystery

How old are you oh Frankie mine
Are you just three or are you nine
Are you twenty or are you ten
Or are you counting over again
The other day the moon was new
I guess that made you forty-two
It's hard to add as you can see
Cause last year you were thirty-three
Tomorrow we might know the score
But by that time its thirty-four
You lead a life that's pretty nifty
By counting backwards under fifty
One day (I know) I heard you say
Another year another day
But with that quirky Frankie knack
You go one year forward, count ten back
Whatever your age will be just fine
So Happy Birthday, Frankie mine.

                    May, 2001

Discussion: The "Frank" in this poem is my uncle.  He's married to my mother's younger sister Teresa and they are my cousin Josette's parents.

My uncle Frank's been 39 for a few decades - despite the fact that his daughter Josette was born years before was born and I'm 51.  I have it on very good authority that he is, in fact, 83.

If that's the case then the above poem was written when he was a spry 70.  And as you can tell, Uncle Frank was never one to stick to any particular number for his age.  He also knows every Henny Youngman joke ever told.  He's a huge sports fan and he once let me borrow a clipping book he made - it held every (EVERY) newspaper clipping about the 1948 Yankees that he found in the New York papers.

He and my dad had a very warm relationship despite some vast differences in their personalities.  Dad was a bodybuilder in his youth and who, with very few breaks over his life, exercised at least twice a week.  My uncle did none of those things.  At every recent family gathering before my dad passed away, my uncle would (jokingly, of course) challenge my dad to a boxing match.  As dad would be sitting comfortably immobile in a chair, Uncle Frank would bob and weave in front of him saying, "C'mon Al!  You and me!  Three rounds!  You and me!  You may be big but I'm fast.  I'm fast!"  My dad, completely nonplussed and equally joking back, would retort, "You don't want me to get up, Frank.  All I'd need is one shot, Frank.  Just one and you're down."

They did this every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and 4th of July for many many years and it was funny every time.  One year, my dad got up out of his chair during the bobbing and weaving and I don't think I've EVER seen my Uncle Frank move that quickly - out of the room.

And they had this odd thing: despite the fact that none of those gatherings weren't at his house, dad sat at the head of the table and Uncle Frank sat "down table" a bit.  I am not sure why this took place, as it just did.  And after dad passed, Frank was far quieter, even turning down a seat at the 2 cent/4 cent poker game that always took place afterwards.  And I was given the seat at the head of the table.  I can't tell you how that decision was made or when.  I was just told that's where I'd sit - in my dad's old seat at the head of the table while Uncle Frank sat down table and quiet.

I can't tell you how uncomfortable that was.

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