I’ve been going through cupboards and drawers sorting and getting rid of stuff much to my husband’s ire.
While going through my recipe box and cookbooks I came across an Irish cookbook my Uncle Pete had sent to me so many years ago.
Flipping through the pages while checking out recipes I came across the letter Uncle Pete sent with the book. I have most of the letters Uncle Pete wrote me stored in a box in the attic but I was surprised to find this letter in the book.
It brought back so many memories of the years of letters we shared and the love that grew between a child and her beloved Uncle who lived thousands of miles away.
I was also reminded of a St. Patrick’s Day parade a few years ago and how the music and dancers sparked forgotten memories which in turn inspired a story about my Uncle Pete.
If you remember reading this before I hope that reading again will remind you of a special someone who touched your life with love. If you’re reading this for the first time I hope you enjoy my tale and that it will spark memories of someone special for you.
I Never Made It Home (previously published about 3 years ago)
Uncle Pete was my grandmother’s brother who lived in Ireland. Ballymote, Tuam in County Galway to be exact. I happened to visit my grandmother one day and she was writing a letter to her brother giving him information for her upcoming visit home. She told me he was family and that I should write to him handing me paper and pen
That was to be the start of years of communicating with a man I came to love even though I was only able to meet him once. I was about 9 years old when I wrote my first letter to Uncle Pete and I still remember the rush of pleasure I felt when I received my first letter from him. He was used to children, you see, because he and his wife, Aunt Delia, had 22 children. I know now that a family that large is very unusual but as a child the only thing I wondered about was how he could remember all his children’s names.
Our relationship continued to grow even after my grandmother passed away when I was 12. Loosing her broke my heart but I had Uncle Pete and he helped me deal with her loss. In my letters to him I shared my grief, my childhood dreams and worries, my teenage uncertainties and he would always offer words of comfort or advice as needed and always with love.
When I was older, each year when it came time for the Irish Sweepstakes, Uncle Pete would send me the tickets he had bought for me, always saying that if I won I had to come home for a visit.
The years passed, I married, had children and shared the joy of watching my babies grow into little boys with Uncle Pete. Sometimes I would ask his advice about something troubling me and he had a way of seeing to the heart of the matter. In our letters we continued to share our lives, the ups and downs, the happy times and the times of sadness. He told me of his loneliness after Aunt Delia passed away and would often mention how he looked forward to the time I would be able to come home for a visit.
I was finally able to meet Uncle Pete for the first time when he came to America to visit his son and daughter-in-law who lived in Connecticut. After years of corresponding I can’t begin to describe what it was like to finally meet this man who had become so important to me.
Uncle Pete returned home to Ireland and we continued writing. I don’t think he was too impressed with his visit to America because in one of his letters he mentioned how in Ireland a man could stop in for a pint and a visit whenever he wanted with no grief from the woman, unlike American women, and letting me know he was laughing about that.
Life has a way of keeping you busy so that you don’t realize how quickly time passes. We continued to write to each other and every so often Uncle Pete would tell me I had to come home for a visit; until the day the letter came telling me Uncle Pete had died.
Uncle Pete’s letters are stored safely away in a box in the attic and certainly I could still visit family in Ireland now but it just wouldn’t be the same for me.
I may have never made it home to visit but I was there in his heart as he is still in mine. I’ll have to try to remember that. It’s said that home is where the heart is, and if so, then I often went home for a visit with Uncle Pete.
Feeling nostalgic, I baked a loaf of Irish Soda Bread using the recipe Uncle Pete’s daughter-in-law shared with me during our visit all those years ago.
A hot cup of tea, a slice of that bread with Irish butter and in my heart I imagine it’s a wee taste of home with Uncle Pete.
The bowl you see in this picture is a larger Waterford Crystal bowl which I bought in 2001. The real deal direct from Ireland and, I’ll admit, a bit pricey.
Of course when I unpacked the bowl Hubby asked how much it cost so I told him.
“You paid how much for that eff’in bowl” he asked me, rather loudly, a couple of times. I won’t use the word he did but I’m sure you know what it was.
I calmly confirmed the price and watched his face as shock and a great deal of ire slowly gave way to acceptance.
You see, there wasn’t really much he could say about what I’d spent for the bowl because, as I saw it, the bowl was a gift from my Dad’s brother, Uncle John. When Uncle John died November, 2000, I was shocked to learn he that he had left me a bequest which allowed me to buy my Waterford Crystal bowl.
Hubby never said a word about returning my bowl and 17 years later the bowl still retains its place of honor on our dining room table.
My husband still refers to it as the “fookin bowl”.
I think of it as a little piece of Ireland and a reminder of two special Uncles who hold a place at home in my heart.
** Picture found on Pinterest
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