So I went to a family wedding this past Friday in the small town I grew up in. It was a down home, black Canadian/Scotia wedding with homemade food, an open bar with liquor flowing and lots of family drama that I, thankfully wasn’t a part of.
The bride, a light Negro skinned beauty who is my new-to-me cousin and 20 years younger, was radiant and stunning in her white satin and deep purple velvet train and her perfectly sweet Caucasian husband wore white tails and a look of absolute adoration. It was sincerely romantic and they seem so in love. It was quite beautiful to share in. But like all weddings, and especially black folk weddings, it wouldn’t have been complete without a few squabbles here, there and eventually everywhere!
The mother of the bride is my Aunt on my fathers side, whom I met 40 years ago for the first time when I was reunited with my biological family but haven’t seen in almost 20. Ya, no real strong family ties here but I’m working on remedying that hence my recent hookup with said Aunt on Facebook. Now, Aunt G is about 4 foot nothing literally and is gentle and soft spoken but if messed with, could tear you down to size in a heartbeat. Lawd have mercy! She was dressed in puffy, creamy yellow chiffon and lace and looked like a fairy godmother, but no one was fooled by her ethereal appearance. We all know she ruled with an iron fist and saw everything with those darting, all-knowing, smiling dark eyes. Nope, Aunt G don’t miss a beat!
Her sister, Aunt E was also there and I had the dubious pleasure of sitting across from her during the reception, dinner and dancing afterward. Aunt E’s main concern seemed to be “when is the fucking bar gonna be open”. Kinda speaks of her priorities at her nieces wedding. I could smell the booze on her breath while sitting behind her in the pew but hey, it was a wedding after all right? I mean who am I too judge? Aunt E’s sole claim to fame seems to be how she has been able to manipulate men her entire adult life. Sex them, use them, make them spoil her, give her whatever she wants and utimately dump them. Hmmm. Not sure I’d share that sooo openly if it were my story but hey. Not my story. I must admit, I did feel a little sorry for her incredibly sweet but silent partner B, no doubt just another skull about to be skinned and added to her bedpost? But to her credit, she did tell me in private that he was the best thing to happen to her. Love. Maybe. Who can figure?
And, then there was Uncle D. In truth, I was dreading seeing him again. That same 20 years ago he had been a bastard. Sexually inappropriate. A drunk. A drug addict. A pimp. Ya…a real bastard. Complete with that treacherously lecherous leer that is reserved for paedophiles and dirty old men. Back in the day Uncle D was a strong, muscular black man whose sexual innuendo, malicious intent and lightning grip had bruised my arm more then once. I feared the memory of him – no fear is too strong an emotion. I was aprehensive and cautious, but knew if hands were laid, I would be more then…proactive. But, in the absence of proximity and the passing of years, my concerns were dispelled almost immediately upon seeing him. Time had ravaged and in his place was a gray haired, old man who it seemed was only remotely connected to what once was. Or so I thought.
After the initial awkwardness, and whatever “What? You’re too black to give your uncle a hug?” means, I relaxed my guard just enough to be cordial and engage in marginally necessary conversation. I had a question for him. And no, it’s not what I probably should have asked. A more pressing matter was in play.
I had received a recent shout out on FB from a supposed son of Uncle D’s who was looking for him and thought I might have some knowledge. Within minutes of being seated and greeted by him, I boldly asked Uncle D if he had any missing children and explained the recent FB query. I’m not sure who was more mortified…his sisters, his date or himself. It was actually quite satisfying watching him squirm a little although he recovered quickly with witty and dark humor. Normally I would never have been so bold as to bring up such a delicate subject so crassly, but I felt in being a former abuse victim of his, that I had earned the right and would be universally forgiven. (Insert Fuck you bastard here) I was “family” after all. Long story short, turns out the boy is his son and was taken from Uncle D by his eX when the two had split up and was moved to Vancouver at the age of 5 – hence the search.
When Uncle D was relating the story to me, full of affirmations of change, good behavior and mild repentance, and wait for it…Finding God…I almost felt compassion. I almost saw the human man in him. I almost saw sadness and remorse and near asking for forgiveness. You know those conversations you have when one set of words are being spoken but there is an entirely different conversation going on? Ya. Like I said. I almost felt compassion. Almost felt compelled to forgive and even tell him so…but something held me back.
And then, much later and perfectly sober, after giving me his number and email (which I felt obligated to record after doing so with several other family members during the evening) he hugged me close and told me to stay in touch. I hugged him back, actually feeling relatively safe in the embrace, when he kissed me on the cheek and whispered “Good to see you beautiful”.
His use of the word “beautiful”was, for me, Pavlovic. It elicited an automatic response, which in my case was icy, dark and fearful. It all happened so quickly, I barely had time to recover before he was walking out the door – confused and slightly bewildered girlfriend in tow…
Double tequila shot after that and then dance dance dance to Taylor Swift “Shake It Off”!!!
Yesterday, out of the blue, I received an email from a once cherished but definitely broken family member on my mother’s side. A woman who in reality is a second cousin but due to a 15 year age difference and other reasons I can’t fathom at the moment, she is called Aunt. I gave this woman the gift of intimate inclusion in my life – a rare gift indeed. And the sharing of my daughters life before and after she was born – an even rarer gift. This was done out of love and a generous desire to ensure my child felt belonging and was just as much a gift to my “Aunt” as well. Those of you who read me often, know how important my daughter and her well being are…has always been and always will be…
So. I get this email from my “Aunt” which was short, incoherent and grammatically incorrect and undoubtedly sent in a drunken stupor…sadly a chronic condition which ended our relationship over 6 years ago…and even tho the message was crudely scripted, the deep and personal attack on my character as a person and a mother struck painfully – as was intended – at the core of my being. As well as her intent to somehow damage the precious relationship I have with my child.
I will share the rest of this story in Part 2 of this post, but will leave you with this…
I learned an awesome expression lately regarding taking on other people’s shit..
“Not my monkeys, not my circus.”
Or is it
“Not my circus, not my monkeys. “
Either way, Seemed appropo for this post…