This post originally appeared on The Washington Post in September, 2015.
We can use Google to translate words, but our family is how we learn to interpret the world. That learning process can be mundane, frightful, funny, and even a matter of life and death.
I remember one scene as if it happened yesterday. I am 5 years old. Louie, my favorite uncle, is a mailman. He is used to walking fast, despite his short, uneven legs – the consequence of a childhood bout with rickets. He lets me push the shopping cart on a breakneck grocery excursion. I stray from my task and take another shopper’s cart as we speed down the meat aisle. The incensed victim yells at my uncle to watch me more carefully. Louie, one of the kindest and funniest souls I know, feigns rage at me and whacks me about the head with the store’s advertising flyer: “Damn kid, what did I tell you? WHAT DID I TELL YOU!” as the complainant looks on in horror.