Everyone probably has someone they called aunt or uncle who isn't actually a relative. There have been many of them in my life. A few of them were associated with my maternal grandparents.
“Uncle” Harold had an unusual and sad life. Harold’s family had a farm in Western New York State. One day while his father was working in the fields his mother had a mental breakdown. She sliced Harold’s hands, feet and stomach. She then put his younger brother in a trunk and lastly killed herself. Harold’s father saved him but his injuries left him a little slow witted. His brother died before he was found. The father remarried and when another child came along Harold’s stepmother lived up to the wicked stepmother character found in children’s literature. My grandparents were kind to him and when they moved to NJ and then to Florida, Harold followed them. We grandchildren were in awe of him due to his immense size. Unfortunately Harold must have inherited his mother’s mental problem because he spent a number of times in Florida’s mental institution. I never remember him being unkind or anything but gentle.
“Uncle” Jim was another unusual character. He had been in a high wire act in the circus. He had a fall and his legs were pushed up into his pelvis so he was left with an odd walk. My grandparents had met him when they lived in a trailer camp in Florida that had quite a few circus people living there. “Uncle” Jim was down on his luck up in his 80s and my grandparents took him into the family when they bought a nineteenth century Florida house. With very high ceilings the staircase was huge. They were so big that there was a small room under the stairs in the foyer. That was Jim’s room. Whenever I see the movie with Harry Potter in his little room under the stairs of his uncle’s house I think of “Uncle” Jim. Another unusual fact about Jim, he used to put a rolled up pair of socks in his pants in hopes of attracting the ladies.
While we may not be able to pick our relatives we sometimes wish we had some say in who gets to be an adopted relative.