Family Tradition

My uncle Edwin Theodore Hansen, on my mother’s side was a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police. He liked to camp, because he was a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police. He had a cabin in the north woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and he often went there alone.

You understand.

My mother had another brother, my uncle Ted’s younger brother, who invited a couple friends to spend a weekend up at the cabin, because my other uncle had business interests and wanted to ingratiate himself to guys Ted didn’t know or care about, but in addition to being a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police, Ted was a heck of a nice guy so he said sure.

You understand.

The guys arrived early full of bluster and bravado and brought all their stuff into the cabin which included guns and ammo and fishing gear, food and dishware and booze and Ted said, “Fine. You boys have a great time. I only ask you pick up after yourselves and don’t leave a mess for me to trip over.”

“No problem,” they said. “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of everything. You just relax. You won’t even know we’re here.”

You understand.

The guys went out hunting and fishing and came back to drink and eat and sleep and swear and Ted reminded them yet again once more.

“I asked you guys to pick up your stuff. I really don’t want to keep bringing this up. There’s food on the table from last night and the kitchen looks like hell from this morning. You haven’t washed a dish since you’ve been here.”

The guys replied, “No problem. Don’t worry,” they said. “We’ll take care of everything. You just relax,” they said. Instead of saying, “You won’t even know we’re here,” they said, “We’ll get right on it.”

You understand.

So the next day they did the same and Ted did what he knew he’d do if they walked out on their responsibility one more time. He opened the back door of the cabin, the one leading out of the kitchen and took each plate, each glass, every piece of silverware and all the food they left out including the pots and pans they cooked it in and threw all of it as far out into the yard and into the snow as he could throw. He had a pretty good arm. The heavy objects landed quite a way from the cabin and the plates and saucers sailed almost all the way to the trees. Then Ted sat back down in his rocker, opened his favorite book, lit his pipe and began to read.

You understand.

When the guys came back they looked into the kitchen and said, “Gee Ted, you didn’t have to go to all that trouble. We were going to pick everything up just as soon as we got back.”

“That’s OK boys,” said Ted.

He didn’t offer any explanations and he didn’t stop reading or smoking his pipe.

He let them find out for themselves.

You understand.