Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Uncle Willy

He was my husbands uncle.    Willy had a series of childhood illnesses hit him one after the other when he was just a small boy.  It left him mentally capacity deficient and back then you never heard of special education schooling. He never learned to read or write.  Like the old times, Willy made his mark.  He had a couple of bumps (cysts nodules) on his head and as children are they nicknamed him Willy Lump Lump.  It never seemed to bother him.  He always seemed to smile when anyone said hello or talked to him.

Of course he never went to school and lived at home all his life.   Grandma and him lived on their meager social security from her husband and later a small government subsidy for him as it came into being.  There were times when other brothers etc.(which is another story some day) stayed there and helped out. Both when they lived there and when they could.  But, most of all the things they had were because he was one who wanted money of his own.  Willy picked up cans along the roads and cashed them in.  You could look out your windows at night and see a flashlight shining around the yards in the neighborhood, you knew he was looking for nightcrawlers.  Willy did quite a business with nightcrawlers.  His were the best taken care of and people came from all over to buy them.  Most were very honest and fair (as Willy couldn't count) though some would take more than their dozen.  It helped when Jack moved in at his 9th grade year to keep an eye on it for him.  Grandma didn't go out of the house much.  He would save his money and get on his bicycle and go into town and purchase whatever it was he wanted.  Clerks and storekeepers were very good to him.  Willy had the very first TV in the neightborhood (my grandparents were second).  He bought his mother a stackable washer and dryer when they came out.  He was quite the inspiration on not letting problems hold you back. 

Grandma had a stroke and eventually ended up in a nursing home.  Jack was given power of attorney of his subsidy and life went on.  Jack's mom moved in to help take care of him.  He developed cancer in the lymph nodes of his neck and went through radiation and chemo which did the job for quite some time.  Since his mother signed the house to him, Willy did the same for his sister.  She lives there still and Jack checks on her twice a day as she is getting up there in years, 87, and has diabetes and gout.  Willy's cancer came back and a he told Jack he didn't want that medicine again.  Just let him go.  But before he left he told Jack to "take what was left of his money and buy a headstone for Momma".  Well, Willy, you've been gone for some years now, but your bought Momma a beautiful headstone.  I thought it was about time you knew.

Willy may have been slow, but he was far from stupid.


  1. Terry, I've been in a borderline depression for some weeks now; too much bad news, too much violece and killing in the world, too much inhumanity...

    Your posting today brought something back which I've been missing badly: the knowledge that human goodness still endures.

    I can't thank you enough.

    We need more Uncly Willys in the world.

  2. Most people are about as happy, content and fulfilled as they make up their minds to be.
    What this world lacks in my opinion is empathy and more Uncle Willys. I'll second that! Your memory certainly has left a lump in my throat. Uncle Willy is proof that the happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

  3. Uncle Willie was a jewel among men. This post is so heartwarming. Thank you so much for sharing his story. I feel sure willie is working his magic in heaven!

  4. This was a very sweet post. Nice story and well written.

  5. You can't feel sorry for Willie because he was one of the happiest people you could ever meet.

  6. Ah. I have tried and tried to leave a comment. AT LAST I can. The blog was acting up.
    I loved this family story and it was one of the most heartwarming stories I have seen in a long time. That's it's from someone I know is a joy!