I used to have a reoccurring dream about my great uncle Manuel chasing me with his old cane. I would run as fast as I could but he kept getting closer and closer until he almost caught me. Then I would wake up.
Uncle Manuel was my grandmother’s brother and he was part of our household. I went to war with him when I was 8 years old. My uncle was about 80 years old. I heard from my dad that my Uncle was a gambler. He spent a lot of time in card rooms. I always thought, “Wow wasn’t he too old to gamble?”
My uncle always wore a grey Stetson hat and walked with an old cane. Even though he was old he was very spry. As part of my regular customary morning I would cool his coffee by putting the coffee into a cup then into saucer alternating the cup then saucer until the coffee was luke warm. I would do this whenever he wanted coffee. He didn’t have many teeth’s and hot coffee burned his gums. My grandmother insisted that I help cool his coffee. When I would cool his coffee, my uncle would laugh at me and say to hurry up always tapping his cane at me, almost hitting me.
Since I cooled his coffee everyday he continued the same routine every day laughing and tapping his cane.
One day I had enough! His constant tapping his cane and saying “Hurry up!” Each time laughing at me almost hitting me with his cane. When my grandma saw, him do it she said, “He didn’t mean it.” Then she would tell him to stop. She’d tell me he was old but I knew he did it on purpose.
I decided it was time for war. I was going to even the score with him but, I didn’t know how. Then it finally occurred to me that he hated for me to eat green apricots.
In our side yard, we had an apricot tree. The apricots were green. My brother and I would eat them and because they were bitter, we would throw them away after one bite. When my Uncle caught, us eating green apricots and he would chase us and we would run and hide. I would yell at him “They’re not yours.”
My dad and my uncle were very close friends even though there was a 50-year difference in age. Yelling at an adult I knew would definitely get me punished. I decided it was worth getting spanked.
My brothers and I continued the eating of green apricots. My uncle continued to chased us.
“You kids stop eating green apricots, you are going to get a stomach ache!” My grandma would say. Since my grandmother only spoke Spanish we responded in English and say “O.K. Grandma.”
We continued to eat the green apricots knowing it would make my uncle mad. We purposely eat them very slowly to make him even madder. Then he would chase us and we would hide under the house. Our old house was built on cement blocks so there was lots of room to hide. We hid until we saw him relax then we attacked again. We took dirt clots and threw them near him. Sometimes we even throw half eaten green apricots near him. We always waited until my uncle was relaxed in our porch swing we before we attacked. He never complained to grandmother. I think he thought he would catch us. I still continued to cool my uncle’s coffee and he continued to mock me. I would show a fist at him and pretend I was throwing apricots at him and quietly go boom. He would quietly tap his cane and tried to hit me. We stared at each other and he would laugh. Then he would say “I want more coffee!” but I knew he just wanted to irritate me. After I cooled his coffee he’d laugh. I would take his favorite Stetson hat and pretend I was going to smash it. When I saw, him gasp I knew I had won the day. This war went on for more than a year. Neither of us ever gave up on the war
I really did love my uncle but he was a rascal but I think I was worse. I should have had more respect for an adult. My family always said that I was such a quiet girl. They really didn’t know me at all. After my uncle died I missed him terribly. I will never forget the fun we had fighting over the green fruit.