Uncle Flapjack

Posted August 26, 2010 by jimhigley

My Uncle Jack is 92 years old. He’s my dad’s oldest brother and I think it’s safe to say that, next to my own three kids, there are very few people I love as much as I love this guy.

He lives out in California but I get to see him once or twice a year – one of those times being just a few weeks ago when my youngest child journeyed out west with me for a mini family reunion with my uncle and a bunch of my cousins. Our trip took us all to Catalina Island for a week. Uncle Jack’s been taking his family on that 26 mile trek across the ocean annually for over forty years. I’ve been lucky enough to go on many of those trips. It’s like a pilgrimage to Mecca. Although, I’ve never been to Mecca.

Uncle Jack’s the youngest 92-year-old you’ll ever meet. He still drives a car (very well, I might add!). He walks daily. He cooks. And, he plays one of the meanest, most serious, expert games of bridge you’ll find west of the Mississippi. In fact, he swears that bridge playing is one of the things that keeps his mind sharp. And, he hates it when one of his bridge partners starts to get, well, old. And forgetful.

“They’re terrible bridge partners when they can’t remember things,” he tell me. “And, no one wants to play with them!”

I’m embarrassed when I compare my recall of events from ten, twenty or even forty years ago with his. He beats me, hands down, with the level of detail that he manages to retain. He loves a good laugh. He relishes in his children, his grandchildren and his family. If you are lucky enough to be in this man’s inner circle, you are forever blessed.

I asked him one day – while he were driving around the back canyons of Catalina Island in a little golf cart watching people zip-line – what it’s like to be 92.

“I don’t know,” he started to say to me in his very loud, firm, I’m-happy-if-the-whole-world-hears-me voice. “But, I will tell you this; things do start to get a little tough when you hit 90.”

Here I was, a week before I was about to turn 50, feeling a little – I don’t know – unhapppy with the realization of how fast life goes by. Suddenly 50 seemed pretty, darn good.

Leave it to Uncle Jack, however, to call it like he sees it.

Oh, and if you want to know why he’s called Uncle “Flapjack” all I’m going to say is breakfast is served at 9 a.m. Sharp. Bring your appetite. He’ll provide the rest.