Reflections of an Uncle

As a self-absorbed teenager and young adult at that time, I showed little interest in the life of my niece Liane. I missed something important here, and I think that it’s time for me to own up to it. I did love my niece and I missed an extraordinary life, short as it was.

Liane was about 12 years old when she visited Mom, Yank, and me in San Leandro. That visit proved to be the last time I would ever see Liane. She spent the night and was relegated to sleep in the extra bed in my room. I remember when the lights went out and we were both awaiting sleep to overtake us, she asked me if I loved her. I assured her that I did, told her to go to sleep, and soon after, we drifted off.

Over the years, I would hear mom’s reports of her visits to Liane in Northern California. Mom always had a big heart, with plenty of room to love Liane and her two siblings. On one occasion, Mom talked about how wonderful the folks were at Peoples Temple, how they asked her to join them. Thankfully, mom was too savvy to be swayed by the rhetoric. She would never consider joining anything that separated her from her family and Reno.

(Jeff Plotnick can be reached at