Growing up, we didn’t do too much as a family. Between Mom working all the time and us being the working poor (the two may or may not be related), we didn’t have a lot of time, money and/or a vehicle for things like family camping trips, picnics, going to museums or… whatever it is that families do together.
But there were a couple things that we did almost every year. Going to the PNE and Stanley Park being the main ones. But also, the circus.
I loved the circus. Looking back, I’m not quite sure what happened at the circus as far as exhibitions. I’m sure they had trapeze artists and tigers tricks (it was the ‘80’s after all), but what I remember most are the balloons.
I loved the balloons. I loved having the string wrapped around my wrist with the balloon bobbing around above my head. I loved how it trailed behind me as I walked. I loved how it quickly turned into the ball/paddle game, but instead of a ball, it was a balloon and instead of a paddle, it was my fist.
One day, as we were leaving the circus, I was playing with my balloon when the worst possible thing happened.
That’s right… the string securing the balloon to my wrist failed. I was horrified as I watched my balloon float higher and higher and further and further away. It was truly the worst moment of my life thus far.
My lower lip began to tremble. My eyes began to well with tears. My heart sank. And then Uncle Keith did the most amazing thing ever. He ran across the street, dodging cars and pedestrians, with the agility that only an uncle with two legs can have. He chased after my balloon with all his might and he caught it.
He strutted across the street with the smug look of success written all over his face; spectators cheered as he handed me my rescued balloon. The tears in my eyes dried up, my heart lifted and my lip stopped trembling. From that day forward, he was my favourite uncle.