Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I played racquetball for the first time ever a few weekends ago. It was fun. Until I stopped a fierce return from my husband.... with my face.

The next day I was gingerly touching my tender cheek and I immediately thought of my uncle James. When I was a kid he used to endearingly insult me by saying things like, "Hey, does your face hurt?.... 'cuz it's killin' me!!!" (Melts your heart, doesn't it?) Well, my face was killing me and I smiled as I thought about how his little joke would fit so perfectly in this situation.

The only time I've ever called him "uncle" is when he would hold my hands behind my back or put me in a headlock, or some other vice-like grip and tell me to "Say Uncle." And I don't think I have ever called him James in my life. I have always called him (and still to this day call him) "Hoppity".

I don't remember nicknaming him this but my family tells me that he used to put me on his back when I was little and hop around the house saying "hoppity, hoppity, hoppity". It just stuck. A nickname was born.

Hoppity is 10 years older than I am and since we grew up in the same house for most of my childhood he seemed more like an older brother than an uncle. You know... the kind of older brother that teases you to no end... laughs at you... makes you cry... embarasses you on purpose...tickle tortures you... inflicts bodily harm because he finds it funny. But he was also the kind of older brother that stuck up for you... helped plead your case... broke very sad news to you and let you cry on his shoulder... laughed with you... let you tag along with him on trips to the hardware store and even on a date or two... made you feel safe....

I don't get to see Hoppity very often. Especially since he traded sunny, beautiful California for snowy, cold Idaho. But I hope he always knows that I love, appreciate, and miss him very, very much. I have many treasured memories that include him.

So, thanks, Hops. Thanks for letting me be your "little sister". Thanks for being a close friend. Thanks for always letting me call you "Hoppity" no matter how many strange looks we got or embarassing explanations you had to give. Thanks for letting my kids call you "Hoppity", too. Thanks for teaching me how to punch and how to take a punch.

I miss you.

1 comment:

Stefani said...

we always did the "does your face hurt, cuz it's killing me" joke at our house too.

And I have uncles like Uncle Hoppity. They have nicknames, they embarrass me and they love me... There's 6 of them on my mom's side. One of them is just older than Brad - so he seems like a brother to me, it's a good feeling huh?