he was my favorite uncle growing up and now, he's tootie's favorite, too.
in my family, there is no child, grown or growing, who doesn't love my uncle harold. a pisces, like both my parents, he has a unique gift of forming exclusive bonds that makes every one of us feel like we're his favorite, too. for one cousin, he was her silent hero, sneaking her away from school to attend her paternal grandmother's funeral when her mother wouldn't allow it. this is who my uncle is. an unsung hero who has no idea his impact on us all. a war vet who, after vietnam, returned to the states scarred, tainted and broken. he spent years battling demons and we spent years battling with him, and he never ceased to being our personal champion.
for me, he is the sixties. he breathes the seventies. every struggle and every triumph of those eras rest in his stride. he gave to me my first and only authentic copies of a black panther newspaper and a vintage life magazine featuring a grieving coretta scott-king on the cover. he listened quietly, eyes closed, head nodding when i learned my first few guitar chords and clapped smoothly, proudly, when i finished.
these days he's everybody's favorite everything. if he isn't baby-sitting one of his 10+ grandchildren, he's over our house mowing lawns, fixing pipes, reorganizing our garage, killing spiders, moving furniture and doing whatever anyone needs with no hesitation. upon cleaning, i came upon a pile of vhs tapes stored in the basement and knew that only he would share my same excitement. as we rummaged through them, pulling out classics and reminiscing over memories, toots jumped and rolled and flipped in the background screaming out to her "uncle hawol" to watch her toddler performances. i smile. another generation of babies to love him even more than we do. he is that blessed. because he is that great.
he's such a beautiful weirdo. him and my father were a lot alike.
their birthdays a day apart, they are, both, recklessly free spirits who offer the world too much of themselves.
they actually lived together for a while. that's how cool he was: he shared an apartment with his sister's (my mom), then, boyfriend.
he bought over a recent newspaper highlighting my cousin char (above) cleaning and primping and planting a brighter tomorrow.
(she calls me her "littles", and at 32, i still blush every time that she does)