At around 10 tonight, a call came through. I checked the caller ID and saw a Maryland number. Martha Mullen. Aunt Martha. My cousin calls her his stepmonster. I like her, but I can see why he'd feel that way. She's my uncle's keeper, and as a result, I never see him.
That's not entirely the fault of Aunt Martha. I only get two weeks of vacation, and I spend one with my mother in New Mexico, one with my father's family down the shore. Unless Uncle Jimmy shows up during that one-week window, another year will pass in which I don't see him. Usually, though, the reason he doesn't make that trip is because they're visiting Martha's kids in Myrtle Beach, or something.
He moved out of Chesapeake City about nine years ago, and I still haven't seen his new house.
This mostly sums up our relationship at the moment, I think. I love my Uncle Jimmy, enjoy his rare company, laugh and cry at his stories, and take the few things he says to me to heart. But he's never there, and in a family that is otherwise so tightly knit, it hurts to even admit that ours is a made-up relationship. One that should be, could be, but isn't, unless feigned in an awkward phone call.
That's why I wasn't going to pick up the phone. He was going to ask for Dad immediately, and Dad wasn't home, and so he'd be stuck making small talk with me for a whole two minutes. On the other hand, it was late, and it might have been an emergency. I picked up.
He: Jess? That you?
Me: Yeah, hi! How are you?
He: How you doing?
Me: I'm doing -
He: Your dad home?
Me: - alright.
He: Good, your dad home?
Me: No, he went someplace to watch the game.
He: Oh, he's not back yet, okay. I thought he would be by now.
Me: Guess not. Haven't seen him since he left, so...
He: So how are you making out up there?
Me: Alright, I'm making out alright.
He: Well good. You sound like you're doing alright. I'm gonna try your dad on his cell. Goodnight! Love you.
Me: Love you too.
I wanted to cry.
He's my godfather, and while that doesn't mean he would be particularly close to me (for instance, my other two godfathers never pay me any mind*), I would think it means at least that he somehow should be keeping track of what I do, to some degree. Occasionally my dad will tell me with much enthusiasm that Uncle Jimmy asked for me. When I ask for elaboration, it's usually, "we were on the phone, and he said 'How's Jess doing?'"
That's not enough. I miss my uncle, who I'm not sure I know anymore.
*Yeah, I have three godfathers. This one is the only blood-related uncle I have, so that makes sense. The other two were dating when I was born, and my mother thought it would be cool to have two gay godfathers. Since then, they broke up. One got married (to a woman), had kids, and moved to Wisconsin. The other is kind of a recluse without the first.