Before I headed out to work in the yard yesterday, I read through several emails. Two of them were about family legacies and the importance of passing your faith down through the generations within a family. I read them and deleted them, but the concept continued to resonate in my brain as I worked.
While at several recent social/work functions, my husband noticed an increasing number of conversations about the TV show “Duck Dynasty” and decided to check it out for himself. He was particularly interested in doing so because of the emphasis that the Robertson family places on their active faith in God. He began to tune in…and since my chair sits beside his, I am often in the room for this program, as well. Yes, we’re aware of the often silly ‘scripted’ dialogue and yes, we’re still often amused by this program. There’s really no danger of having your IQ raised by this show, but it is still a refreshing storyline involving a closely-knit extended family unit with the common bond of both blood and faith…among other things.
There are many fads—and popular TV shows–that come and go without my participation. Sometimes that’s the case because they’re not always my taste (or worse) and sometimes because I’m ignorant of them…mainly as a result of being involved in other things. Either way, or in this case, BOTH of these reasons are responsible for my late arrival to the Duck Dynasty phenomenon. (And for those who are old enough to remember the TV series that went simply by “Dynasty”, I managed to miss that entirely…on purpose.)
As I rode through the yard, I found myself thinking about the role of faith in my own family history. I’m blessed to have a large extended family on both sides (my mom was one of 10 children and my father was one of 9). We are fortunate to have many things in common—the value of education, helping those around us, an appreciation for humor and, yes, in many cases, we have a common bond of faith, as well. We are blessed.
As it sometimes happens, my brain jumps from topic to topic and made the connection between the Robertson family structure and my own. I started thinking about the fact that every family has an “Uncle Si” somewhere in the ranks. Personally, I’m blessed with more than one.
In case you aren’t familiar with the show, Uncle Si is the eccentric, vocal, opinionated uncle who manages to provide both irritation and amusement–generally in equal volumes and usually at the same time. These are the relatives who can annoy you beyond endurance and yet still make you miss them when they aren’t present. They are the ones who often do things that make absolutely no sense at all…except to them…but we just laugh and go along with all the idiosyncrasies because we love them. The one I immediately thought of on my mother’s side of the family was my Uncle Cotton–the brother just older than she.
Cotton was a steel worker—a transplanted Southerner who worked and played and lived loudly up north helping to build bridges and high-rise office buildings in the Chicago area. Eventually the life and a few medical issues caught up with him and he returned home to Mississippi where he took personal delight in creating hilarious upheaval wherever he went. If you were easily embarrassed, being in his vicinity wasn’t a good idea. Larger than life and with a story for every occasion, Uncle Cotton could still be a curmudgeon of the highest order!
Uncle Cotton came to faith late in life, but it didn’t change his actions toward me or any of the rest of the ”young’uns” in our family. He’d loved us all the time. His constant question of “When you gettin’ married, Becky Sue?” started about the time I turned 8 and kept up until I actually did marry…20 years later. By the way, my middle name is NOT “Sue” but that didn’t change a thing–to Uncle Cotton, “Sue” was the approriate middle name for ALL the female neices and he regularly modified our names accordingly. To this day, my pocket knife collection—each one a gift every time I graduated—is one of my favorite things. He made the best chow-chow in the world. He liked his ‘extry-hot’ and knew I did, as well, so he always made a regular batch to share with others and then he’d send me pint jars of the hot stuff long after I moved to Atlanta and was out on my own.
As I thought about our large and continually expanding family—on both sides—I can already pick out the next generation’s “Uncle Si”/”Uncle Cotton” and that makes me smile just thinking about it. There are some things that need to be passed down…traits that extend past the height and facial similarities…and humor and faith are just the tip of the iceberg.
Who was your Uncle Cotton? Feel free to share his (or her!) name and a short anecdote, if you feel so inclined.