Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Estranged

My mom’s oldest brother quit our family.

A handful of years ago, on Easter, Uncle Alan and my youngest cousin, Emma, were roughhousing on the floor in my grandma’s living room. Just fucking around. Fun, right?

Somewhere in the midst of their Wrestlemania, Emma tugged on Uncle Alan’s ears.

Now, I was in the room for their entire match, and I never once heard Uncle Alan yelp out in pain.

But, that ear-tugging?

Made him quit the family.

That’s what he said, anyway. That was his cowardly excuse. He blamed it on a 9-year-old with severe emotional and behavioral problems. And never came to another family gathering again.

For a while, we saw him occasionally. He’d drop by our house when Emma was sure not to be around, say hello, pretend like nothing was wrong. He would see Grandma and Grandpa, too.

His visits eventually ceased. No reason. No incident. Maybe I looked at him like I wanted to pull his ears. I honestly have no idea.

I haven’t seen him in over two years. That pisses me off. It angers me. It hurts, to know that he doesn’t give a shit about me, but seeing how his intentional absence eats at Grandma and Mom is what really kills me.

I don’t know if I have ever truly hated anyone. If I have, it’s Uncle Alan.

Mom saw him a few weeks ago. He showed up at Grandma’s friend’s funeral, oddly enough.

He was thin. Gaunt. Ghostly.

Mom hugged him. She told him that she loved him.

He did not return the hug. He said nothing back.

Mom told me about their exchange that afternoon. She said he was skinny. She said he looked sick.

AIDS, she said.

Not with certainty. But with an awful lot of schooling and experience behind her.

AIDS.

I suppose that people do unusual things when they find out that they have terminal illnesses. I suppose it makes sense. I suppose that Uncle Alan could just be trying to protect us.

But I suppose that it doesn’t make it okay.

...that it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

5 comments:

Stace said...

Loss of words, but I was here. . . bummer

girl from florida said...

Whoa. At first I was like, what a crazy guy. Seriously, maybe there's something a little off wire in his brain.

But the AIDS excuse does explain it. What if Emma had tugged so hard, or scratched him, and he'd bled on her? He never could have forgiven himself for putting a little girl at risk. Or the rest of his family. I've heard of this happening before with HIV/AIDS patients.

I'm so sorry you've had to deal with this. :(

ropedncr said...

how sad. for you, your mom and your grandma, and for uncle alan. he's denying himself a great source of emotional support when he probably most needs it. question though - why couldn't he just phone?

A said...

Well, uh, believe it or not, he didn't have a phone for a very long time.

He carries a cell phone now. Or as of the last time I saw him, anyway.

Elle said...

How sad :-(

 
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