He came from a Ukrainian bloodline and was born in Canada. The generic description for him would be ‘white guy’. He was one of those tough guy types born in the late 1930’s, who didn’t take shit from no one. He was a truck driver, owned guns, former alcoholic, tattoos, didn’t wear underwear, smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day, been to jail, grease monkey, didn’t use shampoo, owned a Harley and scared the shit out of me most of the time with just his presence.
Uncle Bill was my mom’s boyfriend I guess. I never referred to him as that. To me he was just some guy my mom and I started living with when I was 4 years old. When I was too young to even have a memory, my father decided to abduct me from my mother and took me to the other side of the country. His reason for doing this was to sell me in China because boys were favoured there but being the loser he was I think he did it just so he could collect more money from government welfare.
My mother worked at some restaurant at the time and she’d be crying whenever she had the chance. Uncle Bill was a patron there and I guess decided one day to console her. She told him the situation and I don’t know what the hell he did but he was an integral part of me being located. It’s weird, I never thought to ask too many questions about it. I still don’t know how long I was taken away for. I just never cared to ask.
My father came around one day to our house and Uncle Bill told me he came out with a baseball bat and told him to never come around again and to leave us alone. That was the PG version. I later heard it was a gun instead of a bat. That was the last time my father made any attempt to show his face.
I can see how my mother fell in love with Uncle Bill. I’m assuming she did. She never had to worry about anything. If something was broken, he’d fix it. She was safe with him. I felt safe with him even though I felt frightened. Him and I were complete opposites. He was this tough guy and I was this meek skinny Asian kid. He’d always comment on how skinny I was like Olive Oyl from Popeye. I’m sure genetics had a lot to do with my thinness but I never got properly fed. It’s not like I could just drink coffee and smoke cigarettes all day like him.
The worst part about him was that he was a nag. He’d nag me for every little thing. He wasn’t friendly about it either. Drinking hot chocolate with the spoon in the cup could apparently poke my eye out. He was like the ruler of the house. I could never sit in his chair and the remote control for the TV had to stay by his chair even if he wasn’t home. If I wanted to change the channel I had to put the remote back every time. If I didn’t like the second hand smoke he’d tell me to sit outside. I guess that was normal in his day to breathe in second hand smoke all day and night. It seemed like I couldn’t move without having him criticize me. I pretty much had to deal with him all the time cause my mom was working 12 hours a day. You don’t have a lot of options when you’re a kid.
By the time I started high school I was getting sick of his shit. There was only 1 telephone and it was connected to his chair. I couldn’t talk to anyone for more than a minute without him giving me shit. I was also embarrassed with the house that we lived in. It was a real piece of crap. It stunk too but I didn’t know it at the time so my clothes stunk as well. 3 months into high school, I planned my getaway. During this time him and my mom were pretty much done. She wanted to get married but he vowed to never marry again after getting divorced from his first wife and he stuck to it. I made up some bullshit about wanting to move into my grandma’s so I could learn Chinese. The truth was it was a nicer house and it was going to be away from him. My grandma was just as big a nag though. She resented me for the sole reason that I came from a loser father.
I don’t know if Uncle Bill bought my story of me wanting to move to my grandma’s to learn Chinese. He might have. I thought I was pretty brilliant at the time. There was a few occasions after I moved out that I met with him. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I thought about it, that I realized he became a really lonely man and really missed me but was too tough to say anything. One time in grade 8, I came by to grab some of my stuff and I just took off right away. He was like, “I thought you were going to stay for a while.” I said something about having to meet up with friends or something and took off. I remember now, even in his voice that he really wanted me to stay. He never sounded that friendly. When you’re a kid you don’t really notice these things.
There was a time when I was on the bus going home from school and I saw Uncle Bill driving in the lane beside the bus. I stuck my head out the window and started waving. He saw me, happily waved back and then rear ended the car in front of him. Whoops.
Some time in the late 1990’s he sold the house and moved somewhere else in the province. I haven’t spoken to him since the late 90’s. He hasn’t tried to contact me either. He was always too tough of a guy to show any obvious emotion. That house has been torn down, rebuilt and funny enough one of my friend’s bought it a few years ago.
He expected me to be a ‘someone’ or a ‘big shot’ as he called it. A guy who was going to get an education and make lots of money with smarts and handshakes. Not sure if he believed that or just wanted to believe it. Either way, I’d be too ashamed to speak with him now since I didn’t become that person he hoped I’d be. I can’t even blame myself though. The only thing anyone invested in me was hope.
I’m not sure how I feel about Uncle Bill. He probably saved my life but he was also a loveless dictator. I say that he was loveless but maybe he wasn’t. He just sucked really bad at displaying such an emotion. Perhaps that’s why I suck really bad at it too.