This week’s word/prompt for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Bachelor Uncle. As soon as I saw the email, I knew exactly who would be the star of this blog. Leslie Samuel Mays is my father’s older brother. My brother, sister and I have always referred to him as Uncle. He is the oldest child of Booker and Gladys Mays.
Uncle graduated from W.F. Branch High School in Newport, Arkansas. He served in the Air Force from 1965-1968 during the Vietnam war. His time in the Air Force allowed him to travel around the world. He also lived and worked in Michigan for a time. But he returned to Arkansas for his education. He is a graduate of Philander Smith College and Arkansas State University. He was a math teacher for over 25 years in the Newport Public School District. Uncle was always around during my childhood. He was there giving me, my brother, and sister unsolicited advice, stories from his past, and lots of laughter. Uncle always made sure we were on the right track without being pushy about it.
When I was younger I never wondered why Uncle wasn’t married or why he didn’t have any kids. That was just a fact about him. Now that I’m adult I guess I could ask him why he never married. Did he not ever find the right woman? Did he enjoy his independence too much? Did he have his heart broken and never wanted to go through that again? These are questions I will probably never ask him. I’m of that generation that doesn’t question adults/elders about their private lives. But a part of me enjoys that there’s some mystery to it.
Uncle may not have ever married or had any children, but he is very much a family man. He was always there for me and my family to help out however he could. Whether it was taking us to school, bringing us home from school, making sure we did our homework, feeding us, or giving us life lessons, Uncle was always present. When most men were having a midlife crisis, Uncle made the difficult and unselfish decision to take care of his mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Uncle kept Granny at home and made sure she was taken care of with nurses. Although this was a difficult time for our family, Uncle was still always there for us. Whether it was high school or college graduations, marriages, and births of the next generation he was always there for all of our milestones.
Leslie Samuel Mays is smart, opinionated, stubborn, dependable, hilarious, well traveled, outgoing, loving, an educator, a big brother, a bachelor, and so much more. But to me, he will always be Uncle.