>Whose Uncle Pat?

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My father has a brother named Pat. I have a brother named Pat. We have cousins named Pat. We have something like 29 cousins and something like every fifth relative is named Dan. So between those two names, we end up with conversations that stall out with “Whose Uncle Pat? Yours or mine?” or “Whose Dan? Terry’s Dan or Dad’s Dan?”

Last week my folks called to let me know that they were sending Brother Pat’s latest book for me to read. Understand, we are a family that likes to read. One brother has a grocery list in his wallet. Except instead of groceries on the list, he writes titles of books on the list for his next visit to the library. In any of our homes, there will be a box or a bag of books waiting to be shuttled to the next relative. Books Mom has already read, but Mary hasn’t. Books that your Uncle Pat doesn’t want anymore and thought you’d like to have. Books no one liked, but maybe you’d like to read them anyways.

Brother Pat is not my brother Pat. This is what my dad calls his brother, Pat. From a family of six boys and two girls, Dad and Uncle Pat are the only men left now. Mailing books back and forth between Southern California and Central Montana is one way to stay connected. Not too long ago, Uncle Pat mailed my dad a book that was over 1600 pages. The note inside said, “Read this fast. It’s not mine. It’s from the library down here and it’s due in two weeks.”

Most of the books that get swapped start with Uncle Pat. After his girlfriend reads it, it gets mailed to my father whose best reading times are first thing in the morning. Morning starts at three a. m. at his house. When he and Mom are are done with the book, it gets mailed to one of their five kids. Last week, the latest book on Ireland was in my mailbox. (Are you surprised that most of the books we swap have to do with God’s Favorite Country?)

I’m instructed to read it quickly because Cousin Kelly in Oregon is waiting for it. I thought to cheat and say I read it and mail it on. Sitting next to my bed are five or seven books I am reading right now. Who’d notice if I ever read Frank Delaney’s IRELAND? But knowing my family, there will be a quiz. A gathering months from now where I won’t be able to pretend I read the book. So I started it last night and now, I can’t put it down. There are ROCKS in this story! Second only to books, this family of mine is known to share rocks with each other as well. And now, after reading the first two chapters in Delaney’s book, I understand why. Stones are as old as the world. So are some of the stories being told in this book.

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About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

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