Editorial: Be more like Uncle Roy, Aunt Annie

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 14, 2019

I miss Uncle Roy and Aunt Annie on a regular basis. I think of them often, and most always at Valentine’s Day.

Aunt Annie called her husband “sweetheart.” I never heard her call him anything else. He doted on her like a good husband should. They were valentines in every sense of the word.

Not an aunt or uncle by relation, Roy and Annie Williams never had any children of their own. We, as did most kids in the Oak Grove community back in the day, called them “Uncle Roy” and “Aunt Annie.” More than just courtesy titles, they were earned, because they did genuinely care about us children. They delighted in giving me popcorn and Cheerwine at Christmas, and my excitement I’m sure was more gratifying for them than for me.

The couple took in our economically-struggling family about the same year I was born. No dates, but it was a long time ago.

Uncle Roy hired my dad to work for him at the N.C. Department of Transportation garage in Forsyth County. Dad could weld and fix just about anything mechanical, and those were needed skills at the DOT garage, things he had been doing at his brother’s garage in the Fork community. But dad needed a regular paycheck to care for his growing family (I was the fourth child and the youngest), and I think Uncle Roy realized that.

They put us up in their house (the rent was so low it almost didn’t exist), and moved to a smaller one just up the road, or through the woods as we walked it. There was a clearly-worn path between the two houses, whether it was dad or Uncle Roy going to the other’s house to work on a project, or one of us kids going to get a recipe from Aunt Annie. We even had a little homemade bridge over a small creek between the two houses.

At the time, Roy Williams was the rock of Oak Grove United Methodist Church. Not only was he there most every time the door opened, he helped care for the buildings and grounds. Attending church there for many years, and living in the community even longer, I never heard harsh word one about Roy Williams. We all know that is rare in a church, fire department or club. There’s always someone who disagrees with the way things are going. Not so with Uncle Roy, he was loved and respected by all.

Aunt Annie was a homemaker who seemed like she always had a little dog with her, whether it be at home or in the car. There was always a dip of snuff in her mouth, the powdery kind, and little clouds of snuff dust would escape as she talked. That became challenging in her later years, as you had to get real close to talk to or listen to her. That little cloud of snuff dust would go from her mouth to your nostrils. Disgusting then, I would pay money just to get a nostril full from her today.

Uncle Roy and Aunt Annie are long gone, angels in heaven, calling each other “sweetheart” with that constant doting they seemed to share at every turn.

We can, however, learn a lot from this childless couple.

If you love someone, tell them. Show them. Tell them again. Show them again.

If you love your community, work to make it better. And do it without making anyone mad or jealous. Just do it for the right reason.

Love the children. All children. Let them know they’re special and that you care. Do it every day.

In other words, be more like Uncle Roy and Aunt Annie.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise-Record.