Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thank You Uncle Dick

Today was a very emotional day for me. It made me think many times of my beloved Uncle Dick who died very young.......
Many years ago my Uncle Dick took myself (who he called Nelson) and my cousin Sharon (who he called Sherman) to a Highs Ice Cream store. It was in a place in Maryland not far outside of Washington, D.C. Uncle Dick lived down by the Chesapeake Bay a good two hours away and when he came to visit we were given all kinds of wonderful treats. A few years later he moved to Florida and when he rolled into town then with his wife, we felt as though Mr. and Mrs. Claus had arrived. Many of my happiest childhood memories involve them. This one very hot day as we were picking out our ice cream flavors a young black mother and her little girl came in. To be honest, I cannot remember what they were doing in the store but the little girl asked her Mommy for an ice cream cone. The mommy leaned down and took her baby girl's hand and whispered something about not having money for one. My Uncle Dick (God love him) walked over with his big smile that would melt anyone's heart and said "Madam would you allow me to buy your little girl an ice cream cone because she is wearing the prettiest dress I ever saw." The lady's eyes said it all and she quietly thanked him and said that would be fine. My cousin and I got our cones and climbed into the beautiful convertible for the ride home. Uncle Dick told us on that ride never to judge people by their skin, their clothes or their ability to pay for things. He told us what a lovely woman the mother was and how sweet she was for thanking him. That day I learned a valuable lesson. I only wish every child could learn the same lesson. It is a lesson I have never forgotten and I taught my child. People are the same and like books, what's important is what's on the inside. (Uncle Dick worked for Johns Hopkins and was in an experimental lab when a dish containing brusolosis was dropped and broken. He cleaned up the mess and became infected with the disease that slowly destroyed his heart and ended his life in his early fifties. He never regretted infecting himself because others were spared by his heroic deed.)

Today as I had the opportunity to go into the booth and vote for an African American president my eyes swelled with tears. I was so proud of our country and how far we have come from the days of the segregation. We are still on the journey for equality but all I could think about would be how happy my uncle would have been to have seen this day. How happy he would have been to know that the enlightenment he shared with two young girls would be passed on to their children and grandchildren. Although his only child died in infancy, he touched the life of another child and that's something to be proud of.

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