There were three men who, at the time, seemed like giants. Men who lived epically, laughed heartily, and never gave up. They were my uncles, and they could fix things, and tell jokes, and entertain people, and all my life I thought the world of them.
Two of them were my Mother's brother, Uncle Joe, and Uncle Matt, and the third was my Father's brother in law, Uncle Kenny. Joe and Matt were twins, and my Mother and my Aunt loved them without reservation. Kenny was married to my Father's sister, a sister he adored. Anytime we visited them or they came to see us, everybody was excited and you could feel the anticipation.
All three of them were men of action, who never never lacked the fortitude required for difficult work. They spent their years making a living, toiling in the fields, running a business, providing for their families. In my youthful vision they were huge, men of consequence, strong men, men who commanded attention, men who shook the hand of a child with a vise like grip and a warmth that still provides fond memories.
As I grew older and learned more about my father, a man I adored, who had passed away when I was still a child, it became evident that he was a man who valued honesty, and took great ptide in his reputation. He had a great respect for each of these men, and that only added to their cache in my opinion.
Of course, behind every good man is a good woman, and these three men were no exception. Matt's wife Fern, who helped run his company, and to this day is still an organizational force. Joe is married to Vera, one memory still strong is the way Joe always looked so neat and pressed, that was because Vera would iron his clothes. Kenny had Norma, who helped run the farm, fed family and farm hands and was able to take my Father to task, not an easy thing to do.
On vacation this year I stopped to spend time with each of these giants from my youth. Time, years of work, and age has taken their toll on each. Now I am taller, my hand shake is firmer, and my gait steadier. But, as I travel home, through the rain, driving across the endless, indifferent plains of the midwest I realize they are still the larger than life men I remember. They will never quit, and against the terrors of time and the cruelness of age they will stand strong. And I am proud to be their nephew.