The sun penetrated right to my bones. The waves sloshed against the edge of the lake. "Plunk, plunk" we heard, as the waves bounced off the underside of the dock. We sat back in our chairs on Uncle David's deck, looking up at the sky and identifying birds that flew over.
"Cardinal." he said.
"Gull." I said.
"Any more chemo?" I asked him.
"Nah." He took a crumbled cigarette pack from his shirt pocket. Out came lighter from under the plastic outer layer, along with a cigarette from the foil part.
"Doctor said no point in quitting now." he said, breathing in and out, lighting the cigarette.
"Chickadee-dee-dee." I imitated the call.
I had my bathing suit on under my shorts.
"Uncle David, do you think I should swim across the lake to that rock and back? Or should I paddle your canoe around the lake?"
"You're going to do what you want no matter what I say."
"Canoe then. Wanna come?"
"Nah. I'm gonna sit here and watch for birds...Pat, I should have kicked his ass for you when I had the chance. I should have treated you more like a daughter after your dad died."
I hadn't mentioned the finality of the divorce, but he knew what I was thinking about.
So many loved ones had offered to kick the ex husband's ass. Uncles, cousins, brothers.
"It's okay, uncle. I stood up for myself, eventually."