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The room was small; you could see out the window that overlooked the alley in between the two tenement buildings.You could see the silver trash cans all lined up ready for garbage day. My uncle’s room vivid in my mind. The walls were plain; the paint was an off white color. Windows had no curtains just the shades.

I was 11 years old; my Uncle Pipo was bedridden by then and unable to walk. He became ill with the meningitis virus at a young age. I always wondered how it all began. When did my uncle stop walking? My uncle never married and had no children of his own. In my heart, I felt he would have been a great Dad.

His hobby was saving empty glass coffee jars and filling them with half-dollars. He preferred only the glass jars with the Maxwell House labels. My grandmother helped by collecting the jars for him. Did I mention that my grandmother and my uncles, Pipo and Manolo lived on the second floor of our building, and we lived on the fifth?

I got a kick out of dropping the half-dollars in the jar. I liked the sound of the coins, perhaps like many kids that grew up in that era. I loved the noise!  I remember feeling the anticipation, and curiously,” How many coins did Uncle Pipo save today?” He listened patiently, as I talked and talked about my day at school.

The third jar was almost complete, and the other jars were stored away in his bureau closet. Memories are so vivid like it happened yesterday. I sometimes reminisce and travel back to that time.

My uncle died that same year from health complications. I don’t recall the details of the funeral or viewing my uncle Pipo in a casket, but I do remember the loud sounds of the coins. It was time valued.

He took the time to listen to my thoughts and childhood dreams. Uncle Pipo was a tender memory, and he will always have a place in my heart.