The spirit of Uncle Jack, my father’s brother, was manifested by both a steel safe and a gigantic roll of string. Uncle Jack and Aunt Libby recently moved from Highland Park, Illinois to Santa Cruz, California. Jack is over 80 years old; Libby is cheerfully in that same vicinity. The safe is older than their combined ages and weighs considerably more, give or take a few tons. It is the size of a small bathroom or a walk-in refrigerator, and in it Uncle Jack stores birth certificates, insurance policies and passports, which is why, at great expense, he moved it all the way from Illinois to California. Clearly, it’s something that any average octogenarian must have.
Uncle Jack also has the largest roll of string known to man. When I was a child, it was rigged to the ceiling in his cellar, and it was easily the size of a pickle barrel. Over the years, like my Uncle Jack, it has shrunk. But both his and the string’s centers are still tightly-coiled and damage-free. This roll of string, accompanied by the safe, was transported to Santa Cruz.