My Uncle Winn was magic. He loved kids and he and my aunt never could have any so he lavished attention on any one small. When my mom and her brother were small, my mom said he took them outside one Christmas Eve and had them listen for Santa’s reindeer’s sleigh bells and my mom said they heard them.
Uncle Winn was familiar with esoteric forms of magic too because he was a Master Mason. He was the only one of the family Masons that actually had a Masonic funeral and unlike his wife’s funeral which was Eastern Star and had my cousin and I giggling, his had me enthralled from the first evergreen and so mote it be. I was given his Masonic ring and I cherish it. It still feels like him.
We always celebrated Christmas Eve at his house and the highlight of the evening was getting to spend time with him. When you were little he loved to throw you high in the air which brought the mom’s out scolding but we loved it. “Uncle Winn, make us fly!” and he would and he always caught us. He had my cousins and my siblings and I trying so hard to see the his garden gnome move. He told us the the gnome could be caught walking his wheelbarrow if we only could turn around fast enough. We almost got whiplash but we never caught the gnome.
He had the best and most comforting aura of any of the relatives and any one of us would probably describe him in one way. Uncle Winn always made you feel hugged just by being near him. He was a mechanic for Adhor Farms dairy and because of that he got to drive Rose Parade floats. Every New Year’s he spent his time flat on his back driving a float down Orange Grove in Pasadena. So we always had to watch and guess what float he was driving because he wouldn’t tell before hand.
But the night I cherish was one when they still lived up in the woods of Arbor Dell which is now covered by the 134 freeway where it goes through Eagle Rock but it was a neighborhood in chaparral woods when he lived there. One evening our family was visiting and he wanted to show me something outdoors that he said was magical. First he showed me Sputnik passing high over head. You could just barely see the tiny silver ball moving in the twilight sky. Then he took me to the hummingbird’s nest to show me the three tiny eggs inside and the protective mama watching. And then he took me up the hill perched in his wonderfully hugging arms to show me the Great Horned Owl that lived up there hooting in the early evening. It was one of the magical evenings of my life and one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.