I taught elementary music for several years, and I remember one year we got a new student whose last name was the same as mine. When I told him my name, he exclaimed, "Maybe you are my ancestor!"
The little Dale girls grew up without any nearby relatives (or ancestors, for that matter). I knew that other kids had aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, but it never occurred to me that we might have some, too. If I had realized that each relative represented one birthday gift, I might have exerted a little more effort to uncover them.
Gradually, after several epic road trips, we did manage to meet some of our extended family. The aunts, uncles and grandparents were old. Most of the cousins were boys. What a disappointment.
We did have one uncle, however, who was really great. Uncle Roland was mom's brother. He lived in Dallas, and he came to visit us about once a year. On the Dale Excitement Scale, his visits ranked right up there with Christmas, Halloween and Shopping For School Supplies.
Here's why we loved him so much:
1. He gave us each a dollar! Every time!! A dollar! EACH!!!!
2. He recognized our talent and eagerly looked forward to the plays we would put on for him. In fact, I believe to this day that our plays were the main reason for his visits.
3. He was the slowest talker in the world. This was endlessly fascinating to us. Here is one of his stories:
Uncle Roland: (with a Texas drawl) Ah was goin' up to the city ...
Us: Thanks for the dollar!!!
Uncle Roland: ... the other day ...
Us: Can we go to the store now??
Uncle Roland: ... and ....
Us: Hey, you know Mary Bredeson's dog?
Uncle Roland: ... I saw ...
Us: She's gonna have puppies!!!
Uncle Roland: ... a man ...
Us: She's HUGE! Mary says there's 7 or 8 puppies in there!
Uncle Roland: ... on a ...
Us: She's gonna sell them for like a hundred dollars each but she said we could have one for FREE! Can we? Huh? Just one? Please oh please oh please?????
Uncle Roland: ... horse.