Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Ernie Battershell: The Secretly Incredible Uncle

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From Jeremy: I want you to meet Ernie Battershell. His story was submitted by his nephew Cole Bradburn. I love how Cole told his uncle’s story through a different format. Living better stories often means not living by the rules. It means avoiding normal and doing something better.

I hope Cole’s poem about his uncle reminds you of someone that has made a difference in your own life. Perhaps someone that you have lost. A figure that is always there. Strong. Certain. Faithful. Committed.

If you want to read more from Cole, you can connect on his blog or follow him on Twitter.

My Uncle Ernie was that rare man who spent a lifetime in hard, manual work and finished strong.  I would spend much of my summers at his house when I was young, learning to ride a horse, how to play checkers, and how to overcome challenges.

photo by Kristina Alexanderson (Creative Commons)

He was a self-sufficient farmer whose life taught me patience, devotion, discipline, kindness, and rest.  I do not recall talking about these things, but observing them by his actions.  I never heard him speak in anger, in fact he had few words, but those he chose to speak carried great weight and wisdom.  I wouldn’t come to understand that wisdom until years after his passing.

He saw a great deal in his lifetime.  The Great Depression, World War II, many droughts. But he never seemed to falter in his faith or even perceive himself a victim.

All I knew as I child was that I enjoyed his presence.  I looked up to him, physically and metaphorically.

I still look up to him.

I see him.
Tall, old, and wrinkled.
The gentle gaze in his eyes
as he is staring off into oblivion
deeply engrossed in his thoughts,
wondering how he will conquer the day.
His callused, pruned hands
dangling by his sides,
weathered by a lifetime of tending his fields.
I hear him coming closer to me…
Coming ever closer.
His raspy voice cuts through the air
but hits my ears like a warm ocean breeze.
There is a slight whistle as he draws a breath.
Suddenly he is beside me,
I feel dwarfed by him.
His giantlike hand comes down softly on my shoulder.
He pats me on the back.
I look up and see the love in his eyes
and the warmth in his smile.
He is still smiling down on me.

Have you seen love in the eyes of someone you know? Have you experienced an unconditional love?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Know someone who is secretly incredible like Dan? Submit their name to the Secretly Incredible You contest.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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25 Replies

  1. ” His raspy voice cuts through the air

    but hits my ears like a warm ocean breeze.”

    I love that. 

    Uncle Ernie sounds  like a beautiful, incredible person.

  2. Agreed. Raspy voices almost always have something valuable to say.

  3. Great story, poem! I appreciate the simplicity of what you have to say about your uncle. What you choose to include and leave out feels clean and uncluttered. Every little boy should be so fortunate to grow in the presence of a strong love like that. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I agree. The poem takes me back and allows me think of someone similar in my own life.

  5. Thank you Beck!  I was attempting to duplicate in writing how he lived his life – through few, carefully chosen words.  I agree, I hope every boy (and girl) has someone like this.  Almost feels like a hangover from another time in history.

  6. He was.  Thank you Eileen.

  7. This is fantastic Cole! This introduction just cuts to the chase. I first thought of the Old Man and the Sea to an extent, so it’s gotta be good if you can get a Hemingway comparison.   
    I see him.Tall, old, and wrinkled.

  8. I like how old and wrinkled are good.

  9. Gives us hope as these kiddos age us, doesn’t it Jeremy :)

  10. Cole, your uncle sounds like a beautiful person…glad you had him growing up :-) The phrase ‘His giantlike hand comes down softly on my shoulder. He pats me on the back.’ …this reminds of God…the gentle love, reassurance and ‘always there.’  Love it…

  11. I didn’t start losing my hair until I had kids.

  12. Renee

    I love that you could see through what some would have only perceived as a ‘simple’ man and missed what you were able to see -the beauty in his simplicity.  Oh, to have more men like these! 

  13. Oh no, I still have all my hair… but my son could be here any day!

  14. Thanks Jim!  I really appreciate your comment.  Although I feel totally unworthy of a Hemingway comparison, thank you very much.  

  15. Thank you Lorna, and great insight.

  16. Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

    Kidding:  it’s for a good cause.  For sure!

  17. Cole – Very nice!  Your poem reminds me of my grandfather.  He was a large man with big hands (and a big heart). 

    He was quiet and slow-to-anger.  He taught me a great deal about gardening.  I spent many summers working beside him.  Planning, planting, tending, harvesting.  It’s a memory I hold close to my heart.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Jeremy: I LOVE the photo you chose for this post.

  18. Katiakantzia

    Like Michael said, I also saw my grandfather there!

    Great poem…Great story!

  19. I love the striking contrast of a storm trooper holding a teddy bear.

  20. Michael, thank you for sharing a piece of your story as well.  It’s my prayer that I will be a man like this in people’s lives.  

    That picture does rock.

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