July 2, 2010

I have to say that I don’t know my uncle Gary that well. For vast periods of my growing up years he would be interstate, riding his motorbike, working, and, I imagined, having amazing girlfriends with luscious hair and just the right kind of clothes that a biker’s girl should have.

When I did see him though, he got it seriously fucking right. The Christmas I was 9 I remember noticing how excited he was as he handed me my present. I hadn’t seen him for easily a year, and yet he managed to get me the best present of that years haul – plastic make it yourself jewellry. Beads I could string along, flat plastic tiles that snapped together to make any sort of fancy bracelet I wanted. My mind melted with happiness.

There’s a photo of me aged 13, wearing a smart denim/rugby top combo. Sitting in front of me is a cake. It’s in the shape of a grand piano. I can’t remember how he made the legs, but I remember that the lid was up – it was UP!!! – and that the stick for the piano lid was made out of a round chocolate wafer. My Uncle Gary had insisted on getting out of the car at the bottom of the driveway and walking its full, shitty, boggy gravellyness instead of risking going over a bump too fast and the cake piano lid slamming shut. my excitement and awe in the photo is palpable.

I didn’t see him for years again after this. I remember him coming to visit once with his girlfriend at the time. they blew my mind with their relaxedness, smoking, drinking beers, laughing, wanting to know what music I was into. I felt like I was hanging out with the cool kids. I WAS hanging out with the cool kids!

About a year later my Mum described to me taking Gary to the doctor for an appointment. he was in his early 30s, younger than I am now, and had just been diagnosed with MS. She described to me the obvious effort that went into his walking from the car to the waiting room and my mind screamed and twisted, trying to get away from or around the fact that my uncle wasn’t the untouchable god that I had thought he was.

Almost 20 years on and my uncle Gary continues to kick some serious ass. He and his fabulous lady live in the middle of Tassie in a sandstone cottage. I really only see him once a year now. I like seeing the herb garden. I like seeing his antique bottle collection. I like seeing him so relaxed and happy. I like seeing him.

This year, for the first time, MS Australia has begun an adult version of the MS Readathon called the Novel Challenge. My goal is to raise $2000 so that other dudes like my fabulous uncle can have an easier time of it. Please take a moment to click on the link. Even $10 will help me achieve my goal. For cake makin, jewellry wieldin uncles, aunts, cousins, mums, dads, friends, etc… please donate!