Laughter and Forgetting

Tim’s uncle Jackie, well he was this old happy guy, just happy all the damn time with that toothless smile of his. He was missing six teeth but they lined up all matchy-matchy so it looked like it was almost on purpose. He was always smiling, that guy. He didn’t talk much unless you talked to him and he had some funny stories.

I always says hi to him like, Hey Jackie, when you gonna come play ball with us down the block? And he always says not with this bum leg of mine I’m not, but you all go on and have fun now. I says how you hurt your leg Jackie? And he tells me all about the war and his eyes look wet kinda like he’s fixing to cry but he’s got that big smile of his going, telling me about his buddy who was in the war and got blown up but he doesn’t talk about that part too much most of the time. He’s told me about the war lots of time cause I ask. I feel sorry for him that he can’t do much other than sit on the porch or in the basement when it gets hot but he doesn’t seem to mind.

One time he’s telling me about the war again, I think cause I says how can you stand this heat? And he says you think this is hot? This is nothing. Him with that big toothless grin. And I don’t know why, but this time I says to him, Jackie man, how come you live that life and lose all those teeth and see those things and you go on smiling like that? He kept on grinning, didn’t skip a beat. I laugh and I forget, he said. That’s how come.

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