Who was Uncle Huhu?

Hugh Cargill WassWhen I was six years old, my Uncle Huhu (his real name was Hugh but I couldn’t say it when I was little) came to visit us.  He brought me and my brother brightly wrapped packages with shiny red ribbons on them.

I jumped up and down, clapping my hands, anticipating a gift. I looked up at him and asked,”Who are those presents for?”

He snickered. “Me.”

Uncle Huhu ran up the stairs with the packages under his arm. I hopped after him, and he whirled around, handing me the box.

I tore it open with my little hands. A dress! It was one of those frilly dresses- read and white with sparky polka dots splattered all over. I loved it. I tried it on, twirling around and around, delighted in my childish vanity.

“Thank you,” I said, and he left.

My mother scrutinized the dress and checked the tag. “It’s a size five.”

“Ooh, it doesn’t fit, Mama. I think it’s a little too small. I wear a 6x.”

When I was six, I thought you were supposed to wear a size six. The dress fit me fine, but since I was six, under no conditions could I wear a  size five or a seven. At age seven you had to wear a size seven, and so on. We took the dress back.

I felt awkward and unsettled at the return counter as I waited for my mother while she chatted with the cashier. I never saw my uncle again, as he died of a sudden heart attack when I was seven, and I still miss him today.

Even as a teenager I regretted returning that dress. It was the only material thing left from him aside from photographs.  He was my godfather. My memories of him are vague, but his warm smile and hearty laugh are sharp in my mind. This is better than any red and white dress.

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