I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 posts of gratitude for significant people in my life. Today’s gratitude goes out to my Uncle Paul. Enjoy the story! Then, share one of yours!
Tears welled up in my eyes and I pulled my shoulders in and tucked my chin so I could be invisible. The thought forming in my mind at that moment was, “I don’t matter, even when I have served generously.”
It only took a few seconds for my Uncle Paul to notice me, but for me it was an eternity as I burned a limiting belief that would grow into my way of life into my heart’s hard drive. It was one of those moments of childhood that I can replay at any time to illustrate either a victim story or a story of transformation. At the time, it was a Victim Story. Now, it’s a transformative one. And I have my mom’s youngest brother, Paul, to thank for it.
He was a college student then, living with us while he earned his engineering degree at the University of Dayton. My parents had gone away for the weekend and Mom charged me with making beef stew for dinner, enough for all of us kids. There would have been 7 or 8 at the time. I was around 10, maybe 12. I had seared, and cut, and chopped, and simmered up that pot of stew and felt really proud to sit in my mom’s chair at the foot of the big oak table while Paul ladled out bowls of stew for everyone, well, everyone but me. He sighed with his own relief at having accomplished the task of serving, when he saw me, too late for my fantasy wish of being acknowledged and praised. He asked, “Regina, what’s the matter?”
“I didn’t get any,” I whimpered. He soon remedied that and passed me a bowl of stew. Done.
And there, my dear reader, we have a tale of how my “Life’s Story” of being invisible, unworthy, discounted, and never doing enough earned another credit, another ounce of proof for its veracity.
It was many years later that I learned about the whole idea of subconsciously building up false beliefs based on events that we misinterpret. I can always look to that moment as one of those. Of course, my Uncle Paul is totally innocent of perpetrating the STORY! All he did was delay a bit in serving me a bowl of stew! But, I can thank him now for being part of my story, especially since it has become a story of transformation! I now know that I do matter very much to lots of people, and I am only invisible when I choose to be.
And there’s so much more to share about my Uncle Paul too! I’m grateful to him for bringing music and ingenuity, good humor, and Aunt Jean into my life!
His Music came with songs that became family favorites, “One meatball, and no spaghetti……. Ya get no bread with one meatball.” So pathetic and fun to sing. And, when he pulled together a guitar arrangement of “On Wings of Song” for my wedding with about an hour’s notice.
His Ingenuity allowed the music to flow as he somehow hauled his bass violin all the way across town from our house to the University on his motorscooter. I loved watching him play it and hearing the deep bass notes keeping time for his band.
His Good Humor brightened up my high school graduation day with a silly film he made with me feigning to miss my ride.
And when he traded the bass violin for his girlfriend, Jean, to ride on his scooter, that was the most fun of all. They got married right after college graduation and immediately joined the Peace Corps for a two-year service in Peru. Their wedding was a highlight in my 12-year old life. Wearing the blue polka-dot dress with light blue velvet ribbon and catching Jean’s bouquet were delightful fairy-tale moments for me. I didn’t feel invisible then!
But, I’m most grateful today that Uncle Paul and Aunt Jean have grown into maturity together, that they have stayed together and supported each other in love. I have lately taken Paul up on his offer of many years ago to “call and talk when I need to” and found his support genuine and heartfelt.
And one more thing, “Uncle Paul, would you please serve me some stew? I’m just learning that all I need to do is ask!”
P.S. Paul has been a faculty member in a wonderful organization called Engineers without Borders. See what they do here:
Please share YOUR stories of planting seeds of limiting beliefs. That’s the first step in transforming them to stories of gratitude.