Looking at very old family photos soon clears up any misconceptions about who was “way more cool” back in the day: the kids or the adults?
The kids of course thought they were tops and maybe still believe this, but it seems that this may not have been so.
Take Uncle Mike for example. He clearly stands out as one of the adults who outshone all the kids in all respects.
He fought in the army for his country, had better dance moves than the dance-floor, sported a wicked tattoo or two, picked fresh mussels off the rocks in high surf, caught big fish, shook hands unintentionally like a pair of vice grips, cooked a mean dish, made his own chilli sauce, exercised madly, never backed down and wore really short pants with bright coloured shirts.
His dress sense and style were definitely better than the kids and he giggled more than their younger brothers.
Uncle Mike was even an entrepreneur in the food catering field.
During a recent visit he explained to me how he and his friend decided to start a spit-braai business. On one of their first ventures, Uncle Mike arrived at the customer’s venue nice and early, set-up everything and promptly started to slowly cook the lamb on the spit.
But the oddest thing happened. The event was due to begin within half an hour or so but the customer and guests were strangely nowhere to be seen.
Uncle Mike checked the finer details once again just to be sure that he was indeed at the correct venue. All seemed in order.
It was not long thereafter that the frantic customer telephoned Uncle Mike and blasted him (luckily Uncle Mike was on his best behaviour otherwise I’m sure the lamb or at least its leg would have been shoved in a place that would have made the customer feel most uncomfortable).
Uncle Mike had to think quickly to get the almost cooked lamb to the correct venue a few kilometres down the road.
Within a short space of time Uncle Mike packed everything up and was seen driving down the road with the spit braai and lamb still being cooked, but now loaded on the rear of his bakkie (utility van / small lorry)!
I suspect that passing motorists were shocked to see Uncle Mike racing down the road in this manner with burning coals flying from the rear of his bakkie.
This surprise was no doubt shared by the customer and his guests who saw their almost cooked lunch arriving on the back of the bakkie; the driver sporting a big naughty smile and no doubt a Castle beer in one hand.
There is another story about how he traumatized me, as a young boy, in a crocodile infested canal late one night. I will reveal all at another time.
OK then, you look below and tell me if you agree who was “way more cool” back in the day.
Sadly, Uncle Mike passed away yesterday.
Before you make your final decision on who was “way more cool”, consider the words of a family member:
“To Dearest Norma Bernie Tracey Carrie-Anne. Our thoughts and Prayers are with you at this time. My family Wendy and Warren are sad, so sad.
As a brother in law, husband, brother, father and grandfather, you loved each and every one of us including your mom and sisters. I can say for sure you lived your life to the full.
Never a dull moment and your home was always open to us, and food and drinks the order of the day including music rock and roll and jiving.
You were an extremely hardworking man and provided well for your family and friends. We will always remember you always giggling, laughing and having fun.
You loved your sport especially boxing. The casino was a draw card but lots of fun was had by all. Holidays and fishing, well mussels, octopus and whatever came out was welcome lefty.
As you are smiling, so am I; you wouldn’t want it any other way. God has chosen to take you home now. You can try out the golf courses and squash courts before we get there. You are a winner. What more can I say until we meet again.
Rest in His perfect peace in His Arms of gentleness. Love you Brother-in-law MICHAEL HEALE. Hugs Carol and Micky”.
Yes, just like me and all of you I am certain, Uncle Mike was sometimes not an Angel. He made mistakes just like we all do.
I will always remember what he said to me a few months ago after he was hospitalized.
He looked at me deeply in the eyes and I could see he was very serious. He meant what he was saying and was clearly in no position to do otherwise.
What he said went something like this:
“Andy, I have had a lot of time to think here in hospital. I have many mistakes and would have liked to have done things a lot differently.”
We carried on looking into each other’s eyes while I considered what I had just been told, and then I fully understood. I appreciated the huge importance of that brief lowering of the guard.
He did not need to say anything more. Uncle Mike was unconditionally apologizing to anyone and all that he may have wronged in his life. He was indeed sorry.
I am not sure if he shared this information with anyone else before or after our meeting, but certainly hope that he did.
It was not my place or time to share then and there, and I have not done so up until today.
But things have changed and I know this “big” talk we had is not mine to keep. Although he never asked, I am sure he wanted me to share this apology with all who never heard, as he can no longer do this himself.
Cheers Uncle Mike, until our next beer and fishing expedition. I certainly cannot tell anyone about our last one!