Herman the German (my father) and Uncle Bob (his brother) have an interesting relationship. My father is four years older; Uncle Bob is “the baby.” My grandparents kept a cow until “the baby” went to high school and I can still see the place where the cow stall had been in the barn.
They’re not alike, the last of that generation of Baumer Boys. My father is passionate about many things that Uncle Bob doesn’t give two BLEEPS about; Uncle Bob has interests in which my father feigns little curiosity.
In the last few years, Uncle Bob will often ask me “where’s your father? I haven’t seen him all week.” When I get to my parent’s house, I’ll ask why he hasn’t been over to Uncle Bob’s. My father will say “I was just there yesterday!”
Of course, my father is eighty AND he has a long daily list of chores and errands composed by my mother, Queen Helene. Her work comes first. Maybe Uncle Bob doesn’t understand the length and complexity of the Queen’s commands. Uncle Bob is very social and spends some of the day making his rounds about town. Maybe Herman stops by and Uncle Bob isn’t there.
Nevertheless, there are certain things Herman the German and Uncle Bob do very well together. They are great at hoisting chain saws, cutting down trees, and doing just about any kind of work that requires a team effort. If they both were just a few years younger, I’m sure my father could catch a few innings for Uncle Bob, too. They’re a pretty good team when work needs to get done.
This weekend, some friends from New Hampshire visited me in Maine; I gave them a tour of the places that had previously only existed on this blog for them. We had lunch at Chummy’s Mid-Town Diner, I pointed out the Dairy Maid, we beeped at Faye’s Barber Shop, we drove by Holy Family Church, and the old Worumbo mill. We visited both my Redemption and Surprise gardens.
No tour of my town would be complete without a glance upon the old high school. Then it’s a right and a left and a right and a left and we’re at Uncle Bob’s.
I was embarrassed to show them around the barren garden and even more embarrassed that my little spot had been all pulled up, including some mixed greens and some Calendula from which I hoped to save the seeds. The whole spot had been neatly roto-tilled and I could see a footprint of a certain size.
Uncle Bob had taken matters into his hands and finished off my garden, mixed greens and all. He was nowhere to be found, either.
The final stop on our tour was my parent’s house; Herman and Helen were sitting out in the backyard like they often do on pleasant early autumn afternoons. Introductions were made and then I told my parents how Uncle Bob had finished off my lettuce. My mother said “well, you have to tell him if you don’t want him to pull things up.”
Then my father chimed in and said “the flowers were dead, though.”
“Were you in on it too?” I asked.
He sheepishly admitted that he had been over to the house just yesterday, helping Uncle Bob complete the desecration of my garden spot. It’s hard to be mad at my father; there is a charming and innocent quality to him at times. He’s no farmer. How could he know?
Besides, he and Uncle Bob were hanging out and my father got a break from Helen’s list. I had hoped to get one more week of lettuce out of the garden, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Those two Baumer Boys. I’ve got to watch them like a hawk.