“We’re going to Uncle Billy’s house! Kelly, Renee, we’re going to Uncle Billy’s house!” Excitement filled the room when I found out that we were going to my Uncle Billy’s house. Maybe my brother and sister weren’t as excited as I was, but I loved going to his house!
He and Aunt Loyce had one of the most beautiful homes in Parkwood, a plush neighborhood filled with beautiful homes off of 10th and Quindaro. We would play hide-and-seek for what seemed to be hours in his big house — but it wasn’t his house that I loved.
Uncle Billy had two luxurious Volvos that we had a chance to ride in on several occasions. My smile was never bigger than when I was in one of the Volvos and people could see me through the window — but it wasn’t his car that I loved.
At the time, I didn’t know what I would grow to love about Uncle Billy, but now I know — I remember men, like his friend Crocket, who would be at his house eating with us or helping Uncle Billy do work on the house. It seemed that Crocket and other men were always at my uncle’s house, and often slept there for days at a time. I later learned that Uncle Billy did a lot to take care for his friends when they were in need. On several occasions when my mother couldn’t buy us shoes for school, Uncle Billy would come over, get me and my brother and sister, take us to get something to eat and buy us new shoes. One time he bought each of us two pairs of shoes!
It seemed as though everyone liked my Uncle Billy. People on his street who were at first strangers to me would suddenly change their demeanor once they learned Billy was my uncle. If we were outside in his yard, nearly every car that passed honked and people leaned out of their windows to shout joyful words to him.
It wasn’t until after Uncle Billy died, that I fully comprehended what it was that I loved about him so much – Uncle Billy loved people and, because of that, people loved him.
Several years after my uncle died, I moved back to Kansas City with my wife and our four children. A friend of mine was looking to move to Kansas City, so I drove through my uncle’s old neighborhood. It no longer looked the same. Many of the houses were falling apart, and several were now empty. There was a big house across the street from my uncle’s house, where my Aunt Loyce still lives. I parked in front of her house and walked over to the empty house across the street to peak through the windows.
I wanted to learn more about the house but my aunt wasn’t home – Two houses down, there were three men by a car parked in the driveway. Two of them were sitting on the car, and the other man was standing with the car door opened. I wanted to ask them about the empty house, so I started walking in their direction. As I moved closer, the man who was standing by the car door shut it and stood straight and tall. The other two men rose from the hood of the car and stood shoulder to shoulder looking at me as I approached. It was as if they were sizing me up. I could tell they were not enthused about me coming their way. As I got closer, their faces seemed harder and the air was tense. My first words to them were, “My Uncle Billy used to live in that house across the street, and…” Before I could say another word, one of the men interrupted me and said, “We loved Billy… we loved your Uncle Billy.” Their shoulders sank, their once hardened faces became sober, and we proceeded to talk about my Uncle Billy and all that he did to help their families and others in the community.
Uncle Billy never knew that we were watching. He never knew that his life of loving people planted seeds that would change lives for generations. He never knew that giving so much would result in much being given.
Several months ago, my sister, who was at the time struggling to make ends meet, asked me if I could get her two boys some shoes. Without hesitation, I said yes. I picked them up and they spent the night at our house. The next morning, we grabbed some breakfast, and then we went shopping. The boys picked out some shirts and pants at one store, and then we went to a shoe store. As I helped them pick out their shoes, tears filled my eyes – I realized that had become like Uncle Billy.
I know my Uncle Billy wasn’t perfect, no man is, but the seeds he planted through his generosity, his time, and the love for his family and others deeply impacted me. I pray that I will have the same impact on my children, nieces and nephews that my Uncle Billy had on me.
This month The Urban Scholastic Center will launch a new mentor initiative – Please pray that the mentors will greatly impact the lives of the students as we live-out what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Quote: “A true leader does not lead with the intent to create followers but with the intent to create other leaders.” – Tim Stephens