Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy Birthday Uncle Perk

Today is my Uncle Perk's 86th birthday and it will be his last birthday. Right after Thanksgiving we found out that Uncle Perk has brain, liver and lung cancer and the doctor said he didn't have long. A lot of the family got together on Saturday to spend time with him and there were so many things I wanted to say to him but I just couldn't. I couldn't because I knew I would cry and if I started to cry I wouldn't be able to stop so instead I am writing the things I wanted to say to him in this post and if I cry no one will see me...I am an ugly crier, very ugly. Today my Aunt Betty informed us that Uncle Perk is not doing well at all today and that Hospice said he probably only has a few more days on this earth. 

Uncle Perk - Christmas 2010

I was probably 16 years old before I knew that Uncle Perk's name was not Perk. I was down at my Aunt Betty's, at that time they lived out on the farm with us in what we called "down the field", and picked up a letter that said "Charles Belcher". I asked Aunt Betty if someone sent them the wrong mail and that is when she told me his name was Charles. I still laugh at myself for thinking his name was actually Perk. To me he was never Charles and never will be, he will always be Uncle Perk. 

My own father died right before my 19th birthday and Uncle Perk filled that void in my life. Although he was not as affectionate as my father he was someone I could always look up too and always did. There are many things I have to thank my Uncle Perk for, too many things to even list here or ever have the time to explain. He has never been a man of many words but I always thought his words counted and I would hang on to every word he would ever say because in my world he is one of the 3 smartest men that ever walked this planet. The other two were my Uncle Johnny and my cousin Jonathan, who was the son of Uncle Perk and Aunt Betty. If I ever needed an answer to a crossword puzzle I knew Uncle Perk would know the answer. I can't remember a time I asked Uncle Perk a question and he didn't have an answer for me. At times they were smart ass answers and he would laugh after telling me the answer because he knew I always believed him. Along with being smart Uncle Perk has a great sense of ass as it may be. 

Uncle Perk was always there when I needed him and there were many times I needed him. By trade Uncle Perk has always been a mechanic and I swear that man could fix anything. When I was a teenager he was always working on one thing or another and I was always fascinated with how things worked. I would stand out there with him at times and bombard him with questions. If I ever got on his nerves with my questions he never let me know it. He would answer the questions one after another and always explain things in a way that I understood. Years later this would work out tremendously to my advantage because he and I would play phone mechanic. I would call my Aunt Betty and tell her what the problem was and she would holler "Perk, Shirley's on the phone and her car is acting up". She would explain to him what I said the car was doing and the noise it was making and every dang time he was able to tell me exactly what was wrong with it, where to locate the problem, what part to get and how to change it out. One time I was having problems and he suggested I change my battery from a side post to a top post and this would require me using a hacksaw, which I had *okie doesn't even remember why she would have a hacksaw at the age of 22* and replacing cable ends and some other things. I had just finished up the job and was getting ready to close the hood and the my Uncle Perk pulled up. I looked at him, with probably some sort of dumbfounded expression and asked "what are you doing here?" and he replied "I was afraid you might not be able to get it done so I came down to do it", coming down meant a 45 minute drive from the farm to Ada where I live. He looked under the hood and said "HUH! Looks like you got it done right". We sat around and visited for a few minutes before he left. He and Aunt Betty moved back to Ohio not long after that and he couldn't just drive down and check on my handy work but I think he had faith in my meager mechanic skills after that point.

I never held back in saying that Uncle Perk is my favorite Uncle and I always never held back in letting him know I am his favorite niece, whether he wanted to admit it or not. I am going to miss that ornery ol man more than he will ever know. I learned so many things from him from gardening to mechanics to even finding out that men could cook and look after themselves, which was something my dad sure couldn't do. He has always been able to debate current events, which was always a lot of least for me, or talk about what was going on locally. Any subject I would bring up it always seemed Uncle Perk knew something about the subject. It's just not possible for me to write all the things this magnificent man has done for me over the years, nor is it possible for me to ever thank him enough.  So all I can do is write up one last message to him....

Uncle Perk, 
You have always been there for me, you have helped see me through the death of both of my parents. Anytime I talked with Aunt Betty about things that were bothering me you were always there to listen as well, maybe not speaking much but it seems what few words you did say were ones that always helped. Thank you for helping me become an independent person and make me feel like I can and have accomplished things, no matter if it was changing a headlight to finishing college. The world is gonna be a little more dumb after you leave us because we won't have your wisdom and knowledge to take advantage of anymore.  
Thank you for the grunts after I would tell you "I love you". I know for some people it isn't easy to say those 3 little words but I knew by your grunt you were saying "I love you too". I know the last words I said to you on Saturday were "Love you" and you softly grunted your reply and I smiled to myself thinking "yep, he loves me". 
Thank you Uncle Perk for being my favorite Uncle and allowing me to be your favorite niece *sarcastic grin here*. While I will miss you for the rest of my life I think it is more important to let you know I have loved you all of my life that I have known you. 
Love always,
Your Favorite Niece


  1. you are very lucky to have him in your life. i hope he lies down peacefully and has no pain. brought a tear to my eye.

  2. Aww I am so sorry he is not doing well. Reading this I am teary eyed with you. Xoxoxox

  3. Awe Okie, I pray that he does go in peace and no pain. I think I love your Uncle Perk because he sounds just like my BIL " big Billy" that passed away in 2011. He was my Sister's husband. Him and your uncle Perk would have got a long well. Big Billy had been in every State and all but one country before him and my Sister got married. He truly knew something about everything.
    My Mom passed away at the age of 45 when I was 21. Her youngest Sister became my other Mom. It hurt a lot when Aunt Jenny passed away after my husband passed away. She was my crafting Buddy and advisor and told me a lot about me as a baby that I would have never known otherwise. I wish your heart peace as I know you will miss your favorite Uncle.

  4. I always enjoyed visiting with him when he'd come by the shop. He had some great stories to share. He will be greatly missed.

  5. You are blessed....and so is Uncle Perk.

  6. What a wonderful tribute to a very special man. It sounds like Uncle Perk has taught you many lessons that you will hold close to your heart and carry with you always. How blessed you have been to have him in your life.

  7. Wow, what a beautiful tribute! Many people don't ever have the opportunity to have what you have, you are truly blessed to have this man and your family in your life! I'm sure your daughter has also benefited from his wisdom and humor. Thank you for sharing this with us, that's a hard thing to do, but I'm sure it felt good to accomplish this. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time. He won't be gone, he is in your heart and soul forever!

  8. What a beautiful tribute to your Uncle Perk Shirley! I know the heartache you are feeling. It is very hard to lose someone we loved and was very important to us. For me, it was my husband who lost his battle with cancer at an all to young age, he was 52. Our youngest son is 19 and doesn't have his dad anymore. Your Uncle Perk and my husband sound a lot alike. My son's miss their dad's advice something awful. I miss talking to him, sitting next to him, etc...He could fix anything, build anything, and was a very smart man too. Smart in more than one way as well! It's only been 3 months since he passed and I have a void in my heart now. I wish he could have lived into his 80's but that wasn't God's plan. I know I was blessed to be married to him, just as you are blessed to have had your Uncle Perk in your life. They will forever remain with us, watching over us and in our hearts. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family who is losing this amazing man. Sending big hugs your way, Brenda