Tribute to Uncle Walter

I was deeply moved by Jay T’s story. It was a reminder of why we need a voice for men in this world. It also reminded me of my own life, not as the victim of the forces that oppress men, but as a co-conspirator and accomplice in the problem.
It reminded me of a slice of time from my youth, and perhaps offered me a chance for some slight redemption. I jotted down the following as a comment, but then decided I did not want to leave it buried there. PE
Jay T’s story is the story of all men. That is not embellishment or exaggeration.
I don’t know why, but it reminds me of a moment I had as a very young man. I guess I was about 12 or 13. I was with my parents visiting my Aunt Johnnie. We visited Aunt Johnnie a lot. She made fresh homemade bread and her house filled with the aroma of a bakery every time we were there.
I remember one day walking from the kitchen through the house, just poking around. I passed through a bedroom, where there was a man lying there on the bed. He looked up at me.
It was my uncle, Walter.
He looked aged, and withered; tired beyond the simple meaning of the word. I could tell he had been working; doing something hard. I could not form the thought in my head at the time but I could tell he was doing something that was sucking the very life out of him.
He just lay there on the bed looking at me. He neither smiled nor scowled. There was no discernible expression on his face, even in the road map of his deeply wrinkled brow. You would not even think he noticed I was there but for the fact that he looked at me without blinking.
It seemed fitting, perhaps, as no one else in the house seemed to notice him, either. We were visiting my aunt, not whoever this shell of a man was laying alone in a bedroom. I scarcely remember him other than that moment.
And as to that moment, for some reason it frightened me. He frightened me. I avoided his gaze and looked at the floor. Then I quickly scurried out, finding somewhere else to be in a hurry.
The next memory I have is that of his funeral. My Aunt Johnnie was wailing openly, a relative at each of her elbows, holding her up.
Come to think of it, I do know why I am reminded of this by Jay T’s story.
So many invisible men, buried in life by the unending work that defines their worth; buried in back rooms by loved ones and families. Buried in death by those they supported and cared for.
And then buried by the likes of me.
I have not taken a moment to think about my Uncle Walter, one of the many men I never knew, since that day one possible, frightening future of mine lay in solitude on a bed in the small corner of a home, while the kitchen was alive with fresh bread and family.
Whoever you were, Uncle Walter, wherever you are, please know that I am looking back at you now, and I see you.

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