The last time I saw Uncle Abe was in 1992. He always came a weekend or two before Christmas when my friend’s family celebrated the Christian and Jewish holidays. Each year they invited me down for a cocktail, a meal, desert, and/or a visit.
I loved Uncle Abe for all the New York City adventures he brought with him. He was tall, really tall, with a salty colored beard and big head of black hair. He graced the entrance with his long black coat with its red-plaid flannel interior fraying at the edges. Abe carried one suitcase…off white from all the grime it had picked up in the city.
My friend and her family worried about Uncle Abe-he never gave them his address and their minds set Uncle Abe in New York’s bowery, huddled with homeless bums. Yet, Uncle Abe was well nourished, he survived somehow with a gregarious laugh that filled the room and echoed off the walls.
Uncle Abe and the rest of the family took people in…you were visiting, heck you were one of the family. As I got ready to leave that day, Uncle Abe sauntered over to his suitcase. He unsnapped it and the lid sprang open and hit the couch.
“I have a feeling we won’t be seeing you again,” he said “and I want to give you something.”
He bent his torso over his suitcase and pulled out a pack of writing cards wrapped in cellophane. They were all drawings like the one below, where the perspective changes depending on what you focus your eyeballs on…an old woman with a huge nose or a smartly dressed woman ready for an evening out (in 1915, the year this was drawn).
Years later, I was talking to my friend and I asked how Uncle Abe was doing. “He died,” said my friend. He left behind so many antiques and collectibles, we hired an auction house to get rid of it all.”
Poor Uncle Abe was not poor at all: a large man with a large heart and a lesson in communication.
It really does depend how we look at things and reality can shift in a blink of an eye. What we see with certainty may morph into something completely opposite given a change in perspective.