Today would have been my Uncle Pete's birthday. He was one of my favorite uncles, and I always celebrate having had him in my life today anyway.
He would have liked this kind of holiday. Although he lived alone, he was always into cheering up others. Uncle Pete was my real uncle (technically my great-Uncle, as he was my maternal grandmother's older brother), but he had dozens of "nieces" and "nephews" he looked after. He also looked after his Uncle Jack, who always showed up like clockwork for dinner at Pete's house just as the meal was being set out on the table. For years I didn't know who the strange man in the striped shirt, khaki pants, and beret was who would show up just before mealtime, sit at the same place at the dinner table every time, eat without saying a word, and then leave. Uncle Jack looked alot like Patrick Stewart and had a proud swagger to him like the guy in the "Old Spice" commercials; you could almost hear the whistling when he strode into the kitchen. After several rounds of this I finally asked Grandmom who the guy was. "Oh," she replied, "I thought you knew. That's our Uncle Jack. He's our mother's brother -- your great-great uncle." That time when Uncle Jack entered, Grandmom finally got around to introducing us to him, and things were perfectly normal.
One year my cousin Beth (my maternal grandmother's baby sister's daughter) and I were at Uncle Pete's house on Easter when we were in our mid-teens. Beth and I were wearing coordinated Easter dresses Grandmom had made for us (same Simplicity pattern, same fabric, but different views). Uncle Pete went proudly walking through the neighborhood with us, and we were just as happy to be with him. His friends kept looking at him with the two nubile blondes flanking him and sarcastically yelling, "Hey Pete, who are the two gals with you -- your nieces?" Many were winking as he walked.
Beth and I kept yelling back, "We really are his nieces!" We found the whole thing rather amusing.
The month of July was always a good month when I was a kid. Uncle Pete's was the second of four birthdays we used to celebrate in July, each exactly one week from the other. The 4th was mine, one week later (the 11th) was his, one week later (the 18th) was Grandmom's, and the week after that (the 25th) was Aunt Julia's (Dad's mother's baby brother's wife; she and Uncle Sam lived in the same part of town with us when I was born).
As a memento, I still use Uncle Pete's wallet every day.