The whistle blew as he sat on the steps of his porch and paused his thoughts as the train whizzed by on the railroad tracks that ran from east to west right next to his house. Nuzzling his head between Jerry’s arm and body wrestled Spot, the family’s red, brown dog with a white spot right between his eyes. He stared across the way at his aunt and uncle’s house that sat just beyond the end of his yard.
“I was always a pensive guy. Always deep in thought,” he began as he looked off to his left and scratched his salt and pepper hair. “Probably because I’m the middle child,” he stated. Large came along shortly after his oldest brother was born, taking the all the praise and glory for himself. This fame, however, was short-lived as his youngest brother came along soon after. “That’s maybe why I’m so reserved. My time of fame came and went very quickly,” he said with a deep chuckle.
Looking down at his hands, he fiddled with his fingers as he became lost in his own thoughts. “Spot, he always made me feel special,” he began. As his smile grew, he continued, “I’d be sitting on that porch staring off into the vast nothing and he’d nuzzle his head right here,” he said as he pointed to the negative space between his arm and his body. “All he’d do is sit with me while I got lost in my own thoughts.”
He hiked up his khaki pants as he bent over placing his hand in a parallel position just about a foot and a half above the ground. “He was a mutt, but he was just about this big,” he said. With another hearty chuckle, he put his hand on his forehead saying, “I remember the four of us, my brothers, my dog and I, had wild imaginations, oh gosh,” he began. In between his laughter he described pretending to be surfing in the mud after it would rain.
“My mother would be furious,” he said. “She would yell and yell, at all of us.” Pointing his finger and pushing his glasses down to the tip of his nose, he looked out the top of his glasses saying sternly, “’Look at you. Look at all of you! Look at all that MUD!’ she would say.” He slapped his knee a few times and laughed a chest-heaving laugh once more. After catching his breath, he smiled nostalgically off into the distance.
“She is definitely one of the most influential individuals in my life,” he whispered.
Arching his back and rubbing his plaid covered stomach, he began, “Oh her cooking. To die for.” He looked down at his hands again and raised them to chest level. Placing them about 6 inches apart, he continued, “She’d make a stack of pancakes this big. Then she’d expect me to eat that, toast, bacon, and eggs all by myself for breakfast.” Shaking his head with a grin he said, “How could anyone refuse that? Well that or story time.”
Raising his hands to his face as if he was cradling a book, he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply with a smile saying, “We loved the smell of new books.”
His mother would read to them every night before they went to bed. In their humble abode they had two books: the Bible and 50 Famous Fairy Tales. “That was it,” he said. “And it was all we needed.” She was “keen on education” and wanted nothing short of everything for her sons. “She didn’t go far in school,” he began, “but she wanted us to have everything she couldn’t give us…” After pausing he finished, “but there was nothing else we could have asked for,” he finished, as he got lost in his thoughts once more.
“My uncle,” he said with a sigh, “he was another huge part of my childhood.” He paused for a moment, a moment most needed. “He was the father I never had but always wanted. I didn’t need a blood father. I had him.”
With a quiet chuckle, he raised his head saying, “He taught me how to drive you know. Picked me up from school and all he said was to get in the car.” Large got into the pick up truck after school that day and his uncle drove him down the dirt road to his farm. “He got out of the pick up and jingled a pair of keys in his hand.” Gesturing to his right, “All he said was,” he paused to clear his throat and lower his voice a few octaves, ‘You know how to drive right?’ and all I could do was nod profusely.”
He stalled the small grey car in the dirt driveway that afternoon. After the car had been used for a few months the car stopped working. Storming into his aunt and uncle’s house that afternoon, he yelled at them that the car was a piece of…well it didn’t work. “My aunt yelled at me that day. Told me I was unappreciative. And that not every kid gets a car from his uncle.” Shaking his head, a feeling of disappointment glazed over him as he went back into deep thought. “She was right. My uncle, all he did was calm my aunt down.”
Tears welled up in his eyes as he excused himself. Placing his hand over his eyes, he apologized for his emotions and took a few deep breaths. “He was a great man. When you lose someone, they never really leave.” He sighed. “They still live in each of us.”
He looked off to the side once more, “I always think of him when I think about how I’m behaving. I think of how calm he is and how patient he was.” He looked up with a lighter expression saying, “He’s still with me,” he said as he went back once more into deep thought.
This pensive man is known by his editor to be a “low maintenance” as he “does his job well.” Cathy McLain describes Large as being “soft-spoken” and “easy to get along with,” traits Large himself would attribute to his being the middle child and his short time of fame during his childhood.
Gracious in every way, Large would deny any of these statements made by his editor, claiming he is simply a “hard worker” and nothing more. Though he packs a hearty, chest-raising laugh, one would never hear such a deep chuckle unless they took time to ask about those rainy days spent playing in the mud, the half foot tall stack of pancakes his mother made, or his uncle’s quiet, yet humorous nature.
His mother, his uncle, his childhood, even his dog, he claims has brought him to be the man he is today. One might give a hearty chuckle and add his mother’s famous peach cobbler to that list.