I have an uncle named Marty. He’s actually my only uncle—my dad’s older brother.
I happen to come from a strikingly small family. Once all of my grandparents died, it was just me, my brother, my folks, my uncle, my cousin. In the ensuing years my cousin and I have married and produced a few kids (two each), so we’re growing.
But, again, for the longest time we were an awfully small clan.
Saw Uncle Marty yesterday for Thanksgiving. He’s a wonderful man who has taught at Middlesex County College in New Jersey for 41 years. He’s wicked smart, loves to travel, spends loads of time with his grandkids and, rumor has it, went to an excellent Hebrew school (a family legend). This will sound sorta goofy, but I always felt like my uncle was way ahead of his time. Having grown up in an extremely narrow-minded town (Mahopac), I wasn’t exposed to many folks like Uncle Marty, who not only wasn’t, for lack of a better word, afraid of other races and ethnicities, but actually seemed fascinated by and drawn to them. We actually discussed this yesterday—I have two bi-racial nephews, and my cousin’s wife is Korean. The Pearlmans have become the modern diverse American family … and I love that. So does Uncle Marty. He sees it as an enriching element; as something to be immensely proud of (again, I agree).
Uncle Marty is a man of 1,000 questions, and he has traveled much of the world looking to quench his curiosity. He has few needs—doesn’t care much about food, thinks nothing of status and materialism. Just wants fulfillment.
Anyhow, I digress. I come from a proud line of writers. My dad used to write business columns for a handful of newspapers and his book, Conquering the Corporate Career, is one of my all-time favorites. A few months ago my uncle, also a killer writer, released his first book—a collegiate text called Explorations in Educational Field Experience. Uncle Marty worked his ass off on the thing, and I’m insanely proud of him. The book looks great, and the chapter on the cinema is riveting.
So, uh, mazel tov, Uncle Marty.
You’re one of my life’s genuine role models.