Cousin It – No, It’s an Uncle

We all have that one eccentric relative who always says and does the strangest things. In your family, who’s that person, and what is it that earned him/her that reputation?

Uncle Willy was actually a step or half uncle, I can never figure that out. All I know was he had the same dad as my dad but not the same mom. He used to visit my dad who was ten years older and spent the time talking to him about his aspirations. I grew up seeing him do that with my dad until I was about 20 years old when he stopped visiting rather abruptly. What was eccentric about him was his love for martial arts, especially karate. He went to the Philippines to learn from one master and achieved a 7th degree standard. He started his own karate school in Singapore.

He was ambitious to get good disciples and make a mark in the martial arts community. My brother and his friend who were both 7 years older than I, became his first few students. I was already interested in martial arts due to going with my father to watch chinese kungfu movies frequently and the Bruce Lee craze. However, I was too young and my uncle does not take in female students. He always treat me like a fragile little girl and say, “How are you girl? Good or not? Study hard ah. Must take care of your father.” So I never bothered to talk much to him. He only wanted to tell my father how well he did at this and that and my father just went about with his hobby of cleaning bird cages and feeding the birds while my uncle rattled on at the table.

Anyway, his karate club had not many students but I heard it was because the training was too tough so some dropped out. I recalled my uncle related that a black belt student from another karate club came to join the training and asked my uncle permission. My uncle told him to spar with his red belter which was 2 levels below black before he can join. So he did and lost to the red belter rather swiftly. He was embarrassed and asked to join the training from the bottom as a white belter which my uncle accepted but gave him one level higher which was yellow. There were many other such tall tales but I must say he had some credible standing as he was asked to judge karate championships and was also given a leading role in a kungfu movie which was dropped halfway through filming, perhaps due to lack of funds.

Somehow, after his wife passed on due to illness, he became even more eccentric and took offense at anything people say to him. As long as you go along with his story or idea, you will be fine but the moment you go against the grain or say anything seemingly critical, he will clam up. It was no surprise he decided to stop communicating with my dad who hardly made any comments but because my dad came in a package of a whole family who do talk back to him or made some comments out of concern, he stopped visiting us. Soon, we heard he stopped talking to all the other relatives who faced the same treatment. It is sad to be proud and not able to listen to others. It is even sadder to cut off ties with family or relatives because of pride.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Cousin It – DP