Today I’m writing on my laptop, in my “Uncle Harry” chair, by the fireplace, with the dogs curled at my feet. Life doesn’t get much better than that, folks.
The chair is so named–it is a Morris style recliner, very comfortable–because it reminds me of the chair my beloved uncle, Harry Bleecker, always sat in to read his newspaper and drink his coffee. My mother’s eldest brother, Harry was a gentle soul with a broad Bleecker smile. Although he was tall and skinny, he always played Santa Claus at the church Christmas pageant in Northport, passing out little bags with candy canes, oranges and nuts in them. My brother, Jerry, climbed up onto his lap one year, looked past the mop-beard to see that famous smile and those kind eyes and said solemnly, “You’re not Santa. You’re my Uncle Harry.”
He was sweet and funny and profoundly good, our Uncle Harry, and endlessly patient. We miss him very much, but his legacy of kindness lives on. He was an adult all his life, having grown up in the midst of the Depression, and as young as ten, laid awake nights wondering how he would feed his younger brothers the next day. Wherever he is, I know he is surrounded by laughing children, who undoubtedly know that, indeed, he’s not Santa. He’s Uncle Harry.