YEARS ago, we all slept in sleeping bags
on the floor of the tiny room off his
kitchen after Hurricane Floyd. When
renovations happened, it created room
for visiting adults to sleep in beds, even Uncle
David’s. He always gave up his room, sleeping on
the floor even in his 80s. He didn’t seem to mind,
saying he got used to it while living in Japan and
Uncle David taught physical education in
England, Turkey, Germany and the Philippines,
before retiring home to the beach, but this didn’t
mean an end to his adventures. In his 70s, he rode his
bicycle solo from San Diego to Wrightsville Beach,
as well as down the West Coast from Vancouver,
Canada to the Mexican border.
Uncle David loved hearing others’ stories.
“How’s your Daddy doing? Please tell your
family to come over any time.” Friends became family, then heard the question Uncle David asked everyone: “Have we
measured you?” It was a tradition. Uncle David measured children in the family annually and adults at least once. He
documented new friends’ visits, noting their height, name and date on the wooden column by the stairs.
Youth sports delighted Uncle David. He followed multiple high
school and college teams in North Carolina. In addition to nieces’ and
nephews’ sporting events, he regularly attended local games, rooting for
everyone to do their
best. Uncle David
not something he
enjoyed, but eating
was. In my last
memory he was
seated outside at
the old plywood
table, freshly showered after a sunset swim, the newspaper
open to the sports page, his one beer of the day opened. I don’t
remember what I cooked, only Uncle David’s enthusiastic reaction:
“GREAT meal. Mmm. Great meal.”
He made me feel appreciated. I commented how much fun he
was to cook for because he never cared what I made. His response
sticks with me. “It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that it doesn’t matter.”
March 24, 2022 marked one year since Uncle David passed
away. Summer isn’t the same without him.
I hope folks will remember him well: wear socks with flip
flops, take a shower outside, sit a spell on his bench at the Loop, appreciate a meal. The world’s news can feel over-whelmingly
sad, making Uncle David’s words more relevant than ever: stay measured, root for others, know what
matters, and never cross off life.
18 june 2022
The world’s news
can feel over-whelmingly
cross off life.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAURA BEAMON