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Uncle Pete

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The story I’m about to share is based on a real story, said my uncle Peter as I sat on the cold floor of his recently waxed terrace. I laid down over the white and black, cookies and cream ice cream tile floor and crossed my hands under my head, with my left foot crossed over my right one, and looked straight at my uncle. I stared hungrily at dear uncle Peter. “Yes, please tell me more stories Uncle P. I really love hearing them.” “Pay attention India so one day you can tell the same stories to your children and grandchildren.” I smiled ear to ear and paid very close attention.

I used my little winning voice with my favorite aunts and uncles, and from time to time, that little winning voice resurface again each time I ask someone for something that I really want. My uncle nodded and began telling me about the time hurricane St. Patricio flooded a whole town and it was barely visible even months after the hurricane was gone to other lands and the waters has stopped flooding the streets, towns, and villas.

To this day a town named Guajataka was so overflown that its lake swallowed half of the town during the non stopping rains. It is said that the town’s first church and buildings surrounding it are to this day hidden inside the lake. And when there’s low tides, or during the very dry summer days if you go closer to the lake Guajataka you can see from the distance a cross and the roof of that church peering through, right at the center of the lake. People still gather to this day on the shore of that lake to pray for their loved ones and for the relatives they lost. So I knew Uncle Pete had a very good story to tell me, just like other amazing stories I heard from him since I was 4 years old and moved with my divorced mother and sibling into a 4 bedroom wood bungalow near my great aunt and uncles. We had no tv at home nor running water or inside toilette, not much food either. My aunts sort of adopted me. They taught me lady like things that I were going to need one day when I became a woman, just like them. My uncles and my cousins also took me under their wings and taught me things a hard working Spanish girl should know. They taught me to pick coffee beans from its own tree and laid them under the sun to dry up to later on be sold, among many other fruits and vegetables at the Weekend Fresh Market.

But during the time my uncle was resting in his old brown hammock that was tied up to his terrace beams with strong farming ropes, the same one he used to tie his cows with, he would lower his strong loud voice to almost a whisper as if he was talking to himself and began his stories. “You see that mango tree by your aunt Lucy’s house over there on that hill?” “Yes I play hide and seek there with my friends there after school.” “Once, many years ago, even when your Aunt’s home wasn’t built yet, right over there, a helicopter  passing by, looking for some bad people, got fire, and it exploded in the air falling down over that tree.” “Wow uncle. But how that happened?” “No one really knows. But big pieces of it feel all over the streets, the tree, and over a neighbor’s roof top.” “That’s and amazing story. Can’t wait to tell my friends.”

“That’s not all”, said my uncle smiling this time. He rarely smiled. But he continued with his story ignoring my questioning little eyes, opened wide as cow eyes. “They said that the Pilot was such a Christian man, and did so many good things for the people he knew, that he prayed for his own life with so much faith that he came out of it unharmed.”Did he grow wings uncle P?” “Not quite. People ran to his rescue and found him hanging from a tree branch with his parachute wrapped around his arms and shoulders, but he was barely hurt by the accident. In a way he grew wings.” “Yes, he did for sure.”

“This means that the pilot was really a man of God. Because he believed even when things were going so terrible for him. You see, he almost died on his helicopter accident but he was not angry at God. He believed God intended to save him and prayed for that. And God in return protected him from the fire and his fatal fall. The pilot, whom no one ever knew his true name, was saved.” “Great story. That’s why I always pray when I’m scared, specially at night. I’m afraid of the dark.” My uncle touched my hair and messed my bangs a little smiling again. He looked happy then. “You will never need to be afraid because I’m here to protect you, and God is up there also watching after you. Just like you grandma and my mother are. They are your guardian angels. Pray to them. And always pray to God, because he listens to his children, specially to such a pretty and sweet girl like you.”

Uncle P. is my guardian angel now, and last night as I closed my eyes to sleep, he told me, “Remember my stories, India? Well it is time to share them. Is your time to pass them along to your children and grandchildren, and other people’s children and grandchildren too. They’ll need this stories as you needed them when you were a kid. This will help them to know that not everything is bad. That their is still hope in this world.” “Thank you Uncle, I needed to hear your words once again. I will SHARE these stories and many more from now on.” I really miss talking to you, and listening to your great stories, my dear Uncle P.

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