This I Believe

Michael - Cincinnati, Ohio
Entered on November 2, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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How Uncle Bob’s Life of Jokes Actually Taught a Lesson of Life

There’s a prankster in every family. My Great-Uncle Bob was ours. His pranks are legendary in my family. He climbed down a drain pipe to get out of a detention at school. When his canary got loose, he swore to his sister that if you sprinkle salt on its tail, it won’t be able to fly and his sister spent all day chasing around the canary with a salt shaker in each hand trying to catch the bird. For my mom’s Father-Daughter dance, she went with her dad and Uncle Bob and Bob’s daughter. They went downtown for dinner and Bob had no problem with yelling out so all could hear his fake southern accent, “Look at them BIG buildings!”. For my mother’s first communion, he got my grandma a present. After all, who raised my mom to be a good Catholic? My grandma did! Well, Uncle Bob worked at a meat packing company, and inside the gift box, my grandma found a calf’s head all done up in earrings, makeup and with a cigarette hanging out of its mouth. (I will note that that’s not one of his best pranks and I apologize to any who really didn’t want to hear about that.)

Anyway, the pranks he played were funny, but the humor isn’t what matters to me the most. He was always happy. Always. After hearing the stories of most of Bob’s pranks, I got to thinking. And this is what I’ve come up with: Don’t Worry. The only reason Uncle Bob was always so happy was because he didn’t worry about what people thought of him. Most of the time the things that are most fun in life are the things that are most embarrassing. Being the first person on the dance floor, for instance. Or perhaps belting out your favorite song in a public place. Bob didn’t care. He just had fun and those around him would have fun as well (occasionally at Bob’s expense).

Bob inadvertently taught me the second half of his lesson: Life is too short to worry. Bob died of cancer at fifty. Yet during that time, he’d had more fun than a lot of people have in eighty year life-spans. During those fifty years, he’d made an impact on many people, including those who didn’t even exist at the time (like me). Not only that, but he’d lived a life that cannot be matched by many of the top party animals. Quality is more important than quantity, right?

Uncle Bob taught me this: life is like a joke. You have the good jokes, you have the bad. There are jokes that make you laugh, and some that make you groan. But you should always enjoy any joke to the fullest, because at some point that joke will be over, and you’ll never be able to hear it with the same effect again.

Thanks Uncle Bob.