One Inions’ Opinion: Cool uncle perks or responsibilities?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2023

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My family celebrated two new (infant) additions over the past year, officially making me an uncle.

Last Thanksgiving, my brother and his wife welcomed my parent’s first grandchild, Harlan Daily Inions, into the family. While my sister’s recent newborn does not bear the Inions surname, we are still claiming Oliver Bennett Starling, born July 13, seven pounds and four ounces.

My wife and I traveled back to Ocean Isle Beach over the weekend to meet our nephew for the first time. We felt his mom and dad deserved at least a brief window of downtime before being bombarded by gift-bearing guests.

Far enough removed from the rigamarole of labor, my sister Mary Morgan was happy to see us. I love my sister for many reasons not limited to her compassion for the well-being of others. To enter her home on Saturday and see that care transferred onto a living extension of herself and her beloved husband, Jackson, was remarkable for me.

I knew that I was going to love O.B., as they are calling him. I figured as much as I love my sister and brother-in-law, it was inevitable that I would adore their progeny, but witnessing their love for O.B. made it that much more real.

My wife and I can’t wait for O.B. and Harlan to be old enough to come stay with their Uncle Chan and Auntie Abby.

As a youngster, I was fortunate enough to have three uncles, each with an identity of their own. My Uncle Cray gave me my first job on the tobacco farm and taught me the value of a dollar. My Uncle Bobby Dane gave me my first lesson in humility and taught me that I’ll always have a lot to learn. My Uncle Graham gave me my first lesson in acceptance and taught me that just because something is bruised, it still has a lot of value in this world. He was talking about a banana at the time, but I think the message translates to other aspects of life.

There will come a day when it is my time to impart some wisdom unto my nephews. What will my lesson be? Could I talk my architect brother or engineer brother-in-law’s son out of a high-paying career path to pursue a job in journalism?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not about any specific instruction. After all, our actions do a lot more talking than our mouths. My hope is that when the time comes, my nephews will just look forward to spending time with their uncle, whether it’s at a ball game or a cookout somewhere.

They don’t know it yet, but I think my brother and sister will attest that those two boys have a cool uncle, but not the kind who lets them try a beer, look at a Playboy magazine or take the car around the block when they aren’t old enough.

The cool uncles I had weren’t cool because they let me do any of those things. They were cool because they were around, they told me they loved me whenever they got the chance, and they relished every opportunity they got to be my uncle.

It’s not so important to me that I shape any part of the lives of the men my nephews become. All that is important to me is that I get to be around to see the men they grow to be. Some might say it’s my uncle-ly duty to share with them a life lesson they’ll always have. I think all that matters is that they always have an uncle to be part of their life. But hey, that’s just one Inions’ opinion.

Chandler Inions is editor of the Clemmons Courier.