Brother John

[dropcap]U[/dropcap]ncle John liked to claim he was a classical guitarist, and he’d say it without a hint of irony. Then, he and Grandaddy would play Waltz Across Texas, howling in twangy voices. When finished, John would say, “If that ain’t a classical tune, I don’t know what is.”

Grandaddy taught Uncle John everything he knew.

For two years, Uncle John lived in an RV on the back edge of our farm. I don’t think I ever saw him dressed in anything but jeans and a T-shirt. It was all he wore. Of course, there’s not much else to wear working at a fertilizer plant.

I saw my uncle in the mornings for breakfast, and in the evenings for supper. The old boy never missed a meal. And he must’ve had a million and one jokes to his name, because he had a new one every morning.

His inappropriate ones were masterpieces

In John’s RV, he kept a guitar and accordion. When he finished guitar, he’d switch instruments and squeeze out music my grandaddy once taught him to play. Melodies like, ‘O Sole Mio, or Bella Napoli. Between tunes, he’d pause and tell me his half-true stories. Tall tales designed to make me either laugh or gasp.

Sometimes both.

Of course, I also remember the morning John came to the front door dressed in a suit. It was a strange sight, he looked ridiculous. He never used the front door, and he certainly never wore neckties.

But then, you don’t wear jeans to sing at your own daddy’s funeral.