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In Honour of One Person’s Game Board

September 11, 2013

Every now and then you come across a person who’s game board needs to be honoured.  What better way to honour it then to tell a little of that person’s story.  This person’s path and mine crossed just once but the memory of that experience has lasted for a very long time.   It was then that I realized that there was at least one other person on this planet whose note held a pitch that was the same as my own.  I was 21.

As children we had heard once or twice about Uncle Perce but had never met him (at least that I recall).  He was the brother of my grandmother on my dad’s side.  Uncle Perce was forbidden in my grandmother’s house because my grandpa believed his behaviour to be unacceptable.  Uncle Percival (or Perce as everyone called him) as it turns out, marched to his own drum…his key, as it were, was different than my grandfather’s.  He was my great uncle and great he was.

As far as I can tell Uncle Perce was born on a farm in southern Manitoba.  I do not know anything about his childhood other than he had three siblings, two of which were sisters.  I also know that, as most people of that era, they had very little money.  The house they lived in  burned down and they were left with even less.  I believe both he and his brother went to college but how either of them did that I will never know.  Speaks to character though.

When my husband and I were heading off to university in easter Canada my grandmother suggested one of our stops be at her ‘unacceptable’ brother’s house.  We sent a letter off and a letter returned saying that we were welcomed.  Off we drove into the middle of now where….really no where.  When we got closer to the Winnipeg River roads disappeared and we were faced with making our way in a little Pinto, trailer and all, on dusty, boulder filled, pot hole ridden,  roads.  We finally found his place and were surprised to see a nice little cottage nestled right on the river front.  We felt at home  immediately.  It wasn’t long before we both realized what an interesting person this nare-do-well Uncle Perce was and what an interesting life he had led.

Uncle Perce had the most interesting career of buying cosmetics for the very large and prestigious company, Eaton’s of Canada.  With that job came loads and loads of travel and with that travel came an appreciation for what I would call, the essentials of life.  Apparently Uncle Perce felt the same.  His little, unassuming cottage was filled with music, books and art.  It appeared that Uncle Perce knew how to enjoy his life….he even claimed to have met Coco Channel.  He and his second wife, his first died when they were young, lived life just as they wanted it to be lived, surrounded by treasures, beauty and experiences…..the stories weren’t bad either.

What surprised me at the time was how simply they lived.  I am sure they could have afforded anything but they chose to keep everything simple (but cluttered, ha).  Each night at 5 pm sharp you would receive a martini in a Dean Martin glass.  Their very old 50’s fridge had an even older milk bottle in it with ready mixed martini just waiting for 5 pm….one would never want to run out, would one?  You only got one of those but boy was it good!  Then, dinner.  There was a rule in their house that you could not have the same wine twice in a row.  Each day Uncle would go out and buy the ‘new’ wine for that evening’s dinner.  I remember tasting some horrible ones.  Twice we had to pour the wine down the drain.

Besides a love for food, wine, books, music and art, Uncle Perce had a love of nature.  He could read the weather and with that migrations of all sorts of fauna.  There are other stories about this Uncle Perce but I see that I am already at 677 words…..arrrgh.  So, that is it for him now.

I guess his story shows all of us that in spite of questionable  beginnings or middles, endings can be just what the doctor ordered.  Uncle Perce died in his 90s I believe and I know…..happy.

Next blog post….what does your game board look like?

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