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Visiting Uncle Cody January 30, 2014

Posted by vsap in Blogroll.
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Looking out to Lake Hartwell over to the Georgia shore, Uncle Cody couldn’t help but opine.

“Snow’s two inches, shuts down Atlanta,” he turned to me, his prize nephew and native Atlantan, and scowled.

“Makes your city the laughing-stock, you know?”

I nodded, sheepish, like a five-year-old in trouble, instead of the forty-something I am.

“That’s why I came out here to see you. I escaped just in time. Got here before the storm. Now I don’t have to be back to work til next week. I thought you’d be proud. That’s a really long weekend!” I exclaimed, wanting to divert the conversation and lift his spirits.

His wife, my Aunt Dot, passed away between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so Cody ain’t been himself. My cousins, his kids, didn’t think it was too important to hang around once the funeral was over. Carl went back to Cleveland. He is some kind of union rep. Charlotte drove down to Jacksonville, and I sincerely hope that ice queen freezes her ungrateful ass off. Then, there was Charles or Chuck. The oldest and smartest. A Wall Street investment banker. Fifty, smug and self-important. He had little time for his mother and father after high school. Put himself through Harvard. Then Wharton. He dropped $500,000 into Cody’s checking account before he returned from the funeral and told his father to visit Manhattan in the spring. Both knew it would never happen, but Cody appreciated the money and sentiment behind it, even if it didn’t resemble love.

“Yeah, smart kid,” he responded flatly, “So, what would bring you here in January anyway? No fishing. No camping.”

“Well, you were Mom’s favorite brother,” trying to bring the conversation above the morbid.

“Yeah, I guess I was,” he smiled and finally brought his eyes to mine, “She was a peach. And she married a good man. Your father was a favorite of mine, too. Always looked forward to seeing them, and you. Lots of good memories…” he drifted, looking back over the lake.

“Anyway, I came up to help you with the house. Remember? We talked about fixing the bathroom. Modernizing it to make it more comfortable. I’m here and I’ve got the time!”

“Oh, no doubt that bath ain’t been updated since the eighties I guess. Avocado and harvest gold been out of fashion for awhile,” he smiled again as he turned to me.

“But, let’s get started in the morning,” he said, “For now, let’s just go in and let me fix you a cup of coffee on my new Keurig. That’s a heck of machine!”

We found our way back on the cobblestone walk, up a couple of stairs to a massive porch that faced the lake and into the warmest kitchen that could ever have been outside the pages of Southern Living.

“Still reminds you of Aunt Dot, don’t it?” Cody said, as if he was proud to say it.

“Sure does,” I agreed, “She knew how to make the kitchen comfortable, welcoming, you know?”

He nodded and attended to the Keurig for himself first. A mug of cold water and a cylinder of Peete’s french roast and the familiar ‘crunch” of the cylinder meeting the plastic housing got the water heating.

“What about you?” he asked, “Got this french roast. Some Newman’s Own decaf. Or, this Dunkin’ Donuts stuff.”

I requested the Newman’s and within a few minutes we had transported to the living room and planted ourselves in matching recliners, side-by-side, separated by an old mahogany coffee table.

It is my favorite place in the world, this old lake house. My condo in Buckhead is great. Lots of activity and everything is close at hand. But this place is removed, for me, from time and space. Boyhood memories come rushing back. Hiding from cousins as a game when i was ten and just getting away from humanity when I became a loathsome teenager. The stone fireplace, the large area rug on the cold wooden floor, and the pair of recliners, fixtures then and now. Some things had changed. The old RCA tube TV was replaced by Chuck with a 60-inch plasma a couple of Christmases ago. He had it delivered from Amazon. I don’t think any of the kids had actually been back for Christmas in a decade. At the moment it sat there like a big black window and I guess Cody caught me staring at it.

“What you watching?” he asked, waking me from my revelry.

Slightly embarrassed I mentioned the old RCA TV, how small it seemed next to this one.

“Times they are a-changin’ so I’m told. Still have the RCA. Got it in the guest bedroom. Works as if I bought it yesterday. You can watch it til you fall asleep every night,” he said, as if it would be a welcome assurance to me. And it was.

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