Uncle Boochie was a police man. I would stare at the picture of him on the mantle above the gas heater. The pictured showed him in his uniform and I would marvel that I was actually related to him. He was my Mother’s Uncle. My Great-Uncle. He was married to Aunt Ruby and they lived with my Great Granny Sallie Mae. All three lived in the house that My Great Great Grandfather built by hand and Sallie Mae and all three of her children were born in.
Uncle Boochie would eat any peach from any of the peach trees at any time. He told us he would even eat the ones with the worms in them. He said they made the peaches taste better. My brother and I would get grossed out, but we thought he was cool for saying he did that even though we kind of knew better.
A guy thing … I think.
Because Boochie was a police officer we didn’t get to see him every holiday we would go visit Great Granny. Sometimes when we’d go visit he would be asleep and we would wait in the other rooms for him to wake up. I remember sitting in the master bedroom staring at all the old trinkets and treasures but listening to hear if he was stirring around.
Uncle Boochie was fun. He’d play checkers with us. He’d watch us playing in Great Granny’s terribly fun yard and porch swings. I remember him telling us that behind the house, in the hilly and rocky terrain, you could find all kinds of Indian arrowheads and remnants of the Civil War. And we couldn’t go searching for these things because of “‘rattlers!”
I also remember him telling us to stay away from King and Tiny. Two mean dogs tied up to the barn. He said, “You boys stay away from them dogs. Tiny will bite you and King will eat you.” King was a police dog but I think in those days they just trained them to eat everyone except the officer that actually owned them.
We never got near those dogs and even if you just looked their way they would charge all the way to the end of their chains.
Another fond memory came during a holiday. I forget which holiday it was but it was cold. Uncle Boochie had chased a horse through the town he was a police officer in. In this small town (now a small city) it was a spectacle watching a police officer chasing a horse through town. Regardless, somehow he caught it and brought it out to the property. The horse itself was tame but it hadn’t been broken. Once they showed me the newspaper article of him and the horse and I found out it was actually right down the gravel road … I just had to go ride it.
Now, I was just a little kid. Like maybe 6 or 7 (if that.) I begged and begged. Mom was very worried and didn’t want to let me go. Somehow I think Uncle Boochie convinced her to let us go. It was cold and the blond horse was beautiful. I could see our breath in the air and I remember very clearly Uncle Boochie placing me on the horse’s back.
And I remember very clearly being immediately thrown from the horse.
… straight into Uncle Boochie’s arms. Those arms seemed to know exactly what was going to happen and were prepared.
I don’t remember crying but I was scared and exhilarated all at the same time. It is probably why I love roller coasters now. But that is also the moment that I realized that Uncle Boochie would and could protect me. It was a great moment.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get many more moments with him. He died of a heart attack at the age of 49. He was helping someone move into their home. I remember finding out and while it wasn’t the first family funeral I had been too (my grandaddy Thomas died when I was two) it was the first memories of hearing about death and attending the funeral. If I remember correctly it snowed the day of his funeral and I cried as I watched the big white flakes falling to the ground. Whether it was that day or not, I know I mourned him while watching snow fall. I also remember Momma and my Aunts comforting me at the funeral.
Yesterday, I went to go celebrate my Mom’s birthday and she gave me some of Uncle Boochie’s things. My Aunt Ruby’s blood family (biological) hated our family. I think they just hated everyone who weren’t in their small town circle of friends. They never liked that Ruby had married into our world. When she passed away they horded all of her belongings, apparently destroyed her will and recently decided they wanted all things having to do with Uncle Boochie and his kin completely removed from their stash.
Sidenote: When Uncle Boochie died I was the oldest blood male relative left in our little family. That was a big deal and I sat at the head of the table at the next holiday gathering.
My Mom gave me his old smoking pipe, watch, tie-pin and handkerchief. I remembered seeing these heirlooms back when they weren’t heirlooms. I smelled the watch, tie-pin and pipe and picked up a hint of what I think was his cologne. It’s amazing how even the faintest hint of a particular smell can conjure up feelings of attachment and sentiment.
I hope by the time I get to Heaven that Uncle Boochie will have that horse ready to ride. I can see him chasing that beautiful blond horse down golden streets right now…