Apr 7, 2004

I went out and bought a kite. Yes, a kite. It isn't anything fancy, since I have no idea where to buy kites except the local Walmart toy aisle. I bought a big nylon fighter jet kite, made with a fiberglass frame. I haven't even tried to put it together yet, since I haven't had time to test it out. But I decided to buy a kite.

I almost bought a picnic basket, too.

But I remember as a child, the sheer joy I felt when I went out with my brother and sister, and my Uncle Mike, to fly kites. He didn't live too far from a large open field near Schofield, WI, and I remember how excited I always found myself when we went over there just to set out on a mini kite excursion.

My kite was the most beautiful thing you could have ever seen. It was gigantic too; it was about 1 1/2 times my height (at the time) and 5 times my width. My uncle made it especially for me. You have to understand something about my Uncle Mike. He is a man of amazing talent; a man who never does anything in a mediocre fashion. When he does something, he goes all out. So when he decided to study the aerodynamics of kites, he thought he'd had fun with it and see if he could build a perfect kite. He made three. My brother's was a plane, and mine was a beautiful Chinese man. And man, those kites soared. My sister was so little that she could not hold onto one without my uncle helping; in fact, my brother and I would need help on an extremely windy day. Mind you, my uncle invested in the best materials that were available for kite construction, and our lines were made of durable heavy duty string that allowed us to fly the kite twice as high as any other kite I have seen before. My uncle would teach us the art of making the kite dance with the wind. He taught us how to run with it; when to let the string slack and when to tighten up. It very much reminded me of the days we used to go fishing with my father.

How I loved spending time with my Uncle Mike! Everything he seemed to do was done perfectly. I admired, and still admire to this day, the man that he is. He is constantly learning something new. When he fails, he keeps trying until he produces a beautiful crafted product. He can fix anything, or so it seems. He used to play the flute, and now can play the guitar, and is learning the keyboard as well. His artistic skills are beyond comparison. The woodwork he has crafted is exquisite. He even built himself a canoe! He is a spiritual giant as well. And the love he has for my Aunt Maureen, well, to see them to this day I still see how very much in love they are. He will just look at her, and nudge me and whisper, "Isn't she just beautiful? Man, how did I get so lucky?" And my aunt still blushes and says, "Oh Mike!" in false dismay. Since I was a little girl, I told everyone I knew that I was going to marry a man just like my Uncle Mike. Could you blame me? What better role model for a father, a priesthood holder, and a man could a girl be so fortunate to have?

A funny story. My friend Olvia is attending grad school at Purdue in West LaFayette, Indiana. This past Monday she was at Family Home Evening for her single's ward, and lo and behold, she learned there a new Elder had moved into the ward. His name was Elder Murphy. Knowing very well that our cousin Sean was serving in the Indiana mission, she immediately rushed over to him and exclaimed, "You are Elder Murphy, aren't you?" I think she took him a little of guard -- how often does some strange woman come up to you so excited to see you? When he nodded in the affirmative, she said, "I know your cousins Michelle and Laura! And your Aunt Colleen and your Aunt Kathy! And I know your Grandpa and Grandma, too! Your Grandpa is just great!".

"Yes, I know my Grandfather is a good man," Sean started to say. But Olvia interrupted him. "Oh no, no, no...you don't get it, do you. Your Grandpa Mike is the most wonderful man in the world! I have never met a man like him!" She said this so emphatically that she took him by surprise. She was so excited that she finally got to meet him that she immediately called and told my sister all about it.

Yes, my Uncle Mike has to be the most wonderful man in the world. He is the patriarch of our family, and he is so cherished and so needed. When he died in the hospital 17 years ago, I am glad that he was told that he needed to return to us; that we needed him. Everything he had been told needed to be accomplished had been; his patriarchal blessing had been fulfilled, but the prayers of his wife, his sister-in-law's, his nephews and nieces, and his grandchildren must have filled the ears of our Father in Heaven. We had no one who could take his place, and I, being the oldest of the 3rd generation, was merely 11 years old. We needed him.

Because of my Uncle, I never felt that I lacked the presence of a father in my life. I was very blessed to have him there, playing the role of Father, Grandfather, and Uncle. He has given me Father's blessings and has chastized me when I needed chastisement. He has been there through thick and thin, for all of us. He is truly a remarkable man; an angel sent by God to bless the lives of an inumerable amount of people.

I smiled fondly, the memories washing over me, as I stood in that toy aisle. Someday I will have children, nieces and nephews with whom I will fly kites. I picked out a purple and blue jet fighter, and continued on my way.

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