Yesterday morning, I went out to breakfast with Shorty prior to a morning of errands and visiting. We went, as almost always, to the Ranch House. We sat in a booth and Joanne brought me coffee and Shorty a glass of water. Then Wayne (the Moon Man) came in and Shorty went table-hopping to visit and get caught up on what he had missed while he was gone.
All of this is to preface part of why this little corner of Texas feels so much like home. There is, at the Ranch House, a round table towards the front of the restaurant. I glanced at the table, through the salad bar and the grill area and just started smiling. There, at the table, were 5 or 6 of the elder statesmen from my parish and all of a sudden, it hit me.
They looked like my German uncles. I'm not sure why the identifier "German" is in there. I did not have any non-German uncles. There's just a look - a solid, trustworthy, stoic look - that I equate with my uncles and with a lot of the members of my parish.
Most of my uncles stayed in Iowa when Mom and Dad moved to California in the 40s. The visits, since everyone worked and money was never flush, were few and far between. They were, however, memorable. On my dad's side, I have very fond memories of Uncle Bud, who came out in the 50s with Aunt Eileen and my cousin Mike. On my mom's side, it would have to be Uncle Ole whom I remember the best. Uncle Ole and wife, Aunt Lorraine, came out several times but the time I remember the most clearly was the summer after Steve died and my oldest daughter was just a baby. My niece and nephew were visiting also. Uncle Ole was the penultimate grandfather. Kids and babies were drawn to him like ducks to water. The fact that he shared sips from his early morning schnapps probably didn't hurt. He was the one of mom's brothers who most resembled his dad, especially as he got older.
So, here I am, in a kind little corner of Texas. I belong to a church that, architecturally, is almost identical to the church I grew up in and is peopled by folks who look like family. No wonder I feel at home!