Uncle Bert was Mom’s younger brother and she adored him. She was always telling stories about when they were kids. How funny he was, how smart. How handsome he turned out, how all of the girl wanted to date him
It was hard to believe those stories. Uncle Bert never said much, little more than ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. He never smiled, never laughed. It was easy to forget that he was there, apart from the uneasy feeling everyone got around him.
And the odd smell, like sour milk and sweat.
Mama said he’d been in a motorcycle accident when he was nineteen, damaged his head real bad, changed him completely.
‘My biggest fear,’ she tell us, ‘is that I die before him and he’ll be alone with no one who loves him.’ Then she’d cry and make us swear that we’d look after him. We always swore, we hated to see Mama cry. But God did we not want that to happen.
One day Bert walked in front of a train, we’ll never know if it was an accident or not. Mama cried at the funeral. But she was relieved. We were all relieved.