Uncle Dunc

…The other thing that excited me most at Grandpa’s was when Uncle Dunc visited.  On those occasions if I was good, very good, which was code for keeping my mouth shut as they reminisced, Uncle Dunc would let me stick my small hand into his war wound. It was in the small of his back and to the left of his spine. Fantastic! A huge, perfectly round indentation in the fleshy part of his back. An old World War 1 shrapnel wound he told me. It was a blighty. Fantastic, I thought for I could trace that wound with my fingers and small hand to my heart’s content.  I was sooo impressed and proud that he was my uncle.

Uncle Dunc was a proud man of Scot descent. He was a single man with no family to speak of except being close friends with my maternal Grandparents, on my mom’s side.  He was as close to them as one could get without being related.  Perhaps he was a lonely man but what do kids know about loneliness at that age, at least they shouldn’t know.  He wasn’t my real uncle but what do kids care about familial relationships.   He was my uncle, for sure.  I could feel his war wound as often as I liked when he visited and listen to him spout off about his adventures with the Hun – whoever he, they may be. And his mates, but mostly about his mates. He always bragged about his physical prowess as a young man as he was loyal to his values, his mates, his generation, the creator, his King, his country and the Empire.  He was proud of his deeds, almost to a fault, yet full of integrity.  He always said that he would die with his boots on.  He was proud of the fact. That’s how men were in those days.  Then one day, a bit later in my life, my dad was called to the phone.  It was his father-in-law. I could hear him comment in a very low voice to my mother that Duncan Macpherson had died.  Alone in his rooming house… alone yes but with his boots on.