My post next week will be a continuation of my sister’s story. I’ve found that I need to break it up a bit for my own mental well being. As always, I appreciate all of your support and patience. Thank you for reading!
As you may have noticed, my family is not the least bit conventional in any sense and anything that you may read about here, shouldn’t surprise you. Well, I say it shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I’m sometimes met with stunned silence or looks of utter disbelief after indulging anyone who goads me into any telling. Some just cannot seem walk away from my brief answer to a simple question. They’re tempting fate is the warning I issue beforehand.
As soon as I issue the warning, it never fails that at least one person cannot resist the temptation to hear more instead of walking away. I usually sigh and say it’s really not that interesting, only to be heckled until I follow through. No matter, this is usually how other’s remember who I am, and I am often referred to by a name they give me after such an encounter.
The common introduction usually starts with, This Is The Girl Who…and then tack on whatever story they’d been privy to at their last encounter with me. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a name and it’s not…That Girl Who or whatever they choose describe me as, but that’s usually what people remember when it comes to me. So, technically I’m just a storyline.
Stories are always happening somewhere
It’s surprising how many people pick up on some of my real life adventures and how it carries on down through the social chain. It’s funny that that’s how I usually learn who is connected to whom, and I love the complete surprise when someone relays the telling to me and I fess up and say yeah, that was me. I call it the Gossip Chain Gang, and it flows like water so seamlessly, ever connecting everyone to everyone. Fascinating.
Anyway, despite the fact that this year has been dominated by a virus, my folks have had a somewhat interesting story that opened and shut like the bedroom door of a cheating mate who was just caught in the act. While we can’t deny that this individual did or didn’t exist, his brief appearance and subsequent exit, has left quite an impression. Karma, you are quite the lady.
It all started a ways back in my father’s earliest years and I have to say, that for a man of his stature, you’d never guess that he hailed from such humble beginnings. As you don’t know my father, other than the fact that he has been quite influential in my life, he is quite the character. And when I mean character, I mean unforgettably bursting with traits that no one will ever forget. I love you Dad!
A brief look at Dad’s young life
My father’s family had 5 kids and they grew up dirt poor. He was the second youngest child of 3 boys and 2 girls and the stories that he rarely shared with my siblings and I when we were young, scared the ever loving shit out of all of us. Not in a horror movie kind of way, but in a sense that being young and having to be independent and rely on yourself at such a young age, terrified us.
At the ages he identified himself as being before sharing his stories, added gravity to the telling. The stories that took place in his life were absolutely mind blowing to us. We knew and understood that we had no idea how to do anything for ourselves, other than show up for dinner when called, obey our parents at all times and do what they said because we were much too young and stupid and would die if we didn’t.
Ah, old time parenting, how I miss those days where fear was instilled early to help us know better…even if we didn’t take heed. It was a terrifying concept to consider that there were/are kids, whose parents couldn’t or didn’t do a thing for them because they wouldn’t or couldn’t. I know, talk about first world problems, as Lea would say.
We all know that this still happens and that there are children out there in the world who have to take care of themselves and sometimes their families at very young ages. For privileged children, like my siblings and I, who had a roof over our head, food in our cupboards and 2 parents who loved and cared for us, this was a horrifying concept. And once we were old enough to hear about my father’s upbringing, it sounded like a nightmare.
Basically, the stories my father indulged us in, revolved around the fact that his father wasn’t in the picture for very long after his mother divorced him. According to my grandmother, he was abusive and according to my dad, his mother didn’t and couldn’t really care for her 5 children. They had no support from anyone, including the church, who turned their backs on them because divorce was frowned upon.
Other issues arose, obviously, and couldn’t be dealt with accordingly which basically just cascaded into a never-ending and declining spiral. My dad told us stories about having to go to work in the summers, requiring him to catch a train and leave home entirely, so he could eat and care for himself around 5 years old. 5 years old, that was incomprehensible to my brother, sister and I.
You can’t change where you came from
He’d always go back home in the fall to attend school, and he never had sports/extracurricular activities or anything else to indulge in because they didn’t have any money. His siblings weren’t very supportive and what I can derive of the things I’ve heard, is that life wasn’t grand. Dad didn’t have a normal upbringing.
One of the stories that stuck out in my mind, was about one of my dad’s brothers named Bob, who was removed from the home by social services at a very young age. All I’ve gathered from Dad, is that he was apparently difficult to handle and was removed because my grandmother couldn’t handle him. My dad wasn’t very old when this happened, and often wonders what prompted his brother to behave in this manner and why he was removed. He still has no answers.
The questions he’s had about this incident, plague him still to this day. He doesn’t know if his brother was potentially abused in some way or what could possibly have happened to have caused all of this. Long story short, once his brother was removed, my father didn’t see him again until he was a teenager. His last memory of him, ended with Bob being kicked out during a family gathering at Christmas, for uttering death threats to another family member.
Another time that sticks out, is when Dad’s other brother, Kevin, took Bob in and arrived home one day after work to find much of his stuff stolen. The only things I knew about Bob were that he wasn’t a very nice man and that he had many problems. We’d guessed that he’d been in jail, probably on drugs and wasn’t someone safe to be around.
All we’ve ever had to go on is speculation and my grandmother often asked if my dad could track Bob down, but all we’d hit were dead ends. The last place that anyone had heard of Bob, was that he was an addict, had served time in jail, and had been living on East Hastings Street in Vancouver, B.C. somewhere, not wanting to be found. At one point, we all thought he was dead.
Fast forward to late December last year, when Christmas was over and the New Year was upon us. Clem and I had just arrived back home a day or 2 earlier, after indulging in the usual holiday festivities with my folks, when my mother text me out of the blue.
Can’t say I was expecting any of this
You’ll never in a million years, guess who we just heard from…
Well shit, if that doesn’t get the ol’ ears perked up, I don’t know what will! How the hell was I supposed to respond to that without revealing my overwhelming nosiness and seeming a little too eager for information? I couldn’t just ignore it! So I asked who and didn’t even fathom a guess because I was totally clueless.
Your Uncle Bob.
My Uncle Bob? I don’t have a…well holy shit. He isn’t dead?
Nope. He’s very much alive and he wants to see your dad.
WTF? Apparently, after all these years, he’d cleaned himself up and decided it was time to see his family. With the help of a friend, while sitting in a coffee shop, he had some lady call my dad to see if he would talk to him.
Second kick at the can
Now, I believe in second chances and I also believe that some things happen for a reason but I don’t feel like it’s divine intervention or anything. Sometimes, I think we humans have certain senses about things which potentially compel us to do certain things, if that makes any sense. I think that’s ingrained in each of us but I feel like we have to be paying attention in order to catch those cues and perhaps we’re a little more disconnected with ourselves these days. Just a random thought I’ve had.
And now, in hindsight, I wonder if this was indeed the reason for my father’s long lost brother’s reaching out. It just seems odd that it happened at this time, especially now. It’s creepy, actually.
My father and his brother spoke for a while about where Bob had been all these years, and what had been going on since the last date of known contact with anyone. As you can imagine, much can happen in 40 plus years and this instance was no exception. Not much about Bob’s story was truly surprising, but why was he reaching out after all these years?
Is this for real?
Apparently, Bob was in Vancouver, and had been an addict for many years but was finally clean and sober. Yes, he’d served time in prison but claimed to have found God and changed his ways. Living with HIV and in a place for recovered addicts, he’d had 2 children with someone he was no longer with and must’ve been ready to reconnect again.
To say that my parents were thrilled about this call, would be a lie. This was a man who’d done some terrible things in his time and I think my parents had always been afraid of him tracking them down, especially after they’d had the 3 of us kids. Lucky for them, that didn’t happen when we were little, but it’s weird that it happened now.
Obviously, my folks weren’t keen on having Bob come to them, so they decided to try and set up a meeting closer to him. As the weeks went on however, Bob’s plans began to change. Suddenly, Bob and his friend Rick were going to go to my parent’s place to visit and then try to obtain gainful employment nearby.
The plans and dates constantly seemed to change with every phone call and my parents became wary. With the constantly changing storyline, suspicions began to surface. My folks began avoiding phone calls from unknown, random numbers that continually popped up on their phone, just like every other time he called.
Giving the benefit of the doubt might lead to being bitten in the ass
We were all wondering what the hell was going on and tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. Why and how did he just pop out of the blue? My dad’s remaining siblings (one of his sisters died of cancer a few years ago), were also in contact with Bob, including my grandmother. Was this some kind of miracle, or was there something going on in the universe that we didn’t know about?
As the weeks passed, more phone calls were screened and my parent’s apprehension grew in the fear that this man was going to appear on their doorstep (he had been violent in the past). I certainly didn’t want to be in contact with this stranger either, but a cousin that I know (but don’t), had been in contact with him as well and I hoped to hell she wasn’t going to cough up any of my contact information. I sure the hell didn’t want him landing on my doorstep. That would’ve been awkward, wouldn’t it?
Unexpectedly, one morning in early March (right before this pandemic was declared), everything changed entirely. My mother, who was still screening her calls, decided…and I don’t know why or for what reason she did this…to answer a call from an unknown number, despite her vigilance. Lo and behold, it was a pastor from the place that Bob had been residing. He asked if it was my mother and upon confirmation, proceeded to inform her that…
Bob had died.
Isn’t that fucking nuts? Bob’s roomie awoke to find him dead in his bed in his room. Hmmm…
We know that Bob had HIV and he also said that he had COPD as well, which left us wondering. Rona…was that you? And now one wonders, did he know something was on the horizon?
Kind of creepy when you think of it. Makes me wonder if he knew he didn’t have much time or maybe he was just going on a last ditch renegade mission to steal some shit and have a heyday on his way out. Too bad he’s not here to answer for himself…would’ve been entertaining.
But wait! Maybe we will have the chance to ask him! As luck would have it…karma…you’re so classy…because Bob left my dad’s contact information with this pastor, he is now the very fortunate recipient of my dear uncle’s ashes.
Yeah. Ain’t that grand? Lucky Dad!
What’s truly important in life
I know, this is sad. No one wanted or wants his ashes, not even his own mother I think. I sure hope that my family doesn’t become this fucked up. I could end up down an outhouse shitter on the side of the road, going to who the hell knows where. Meh, I’m dead so it won’t really matter, but still!
It just goes to show what really matters in the world. Family. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s by blood or by design, that’s truly the only thing we have in our lives. This man, that is supposed to be my uncle, didn’t have that.
That makes me sad for him, but I still don’t want his remains…sorry. For me, this just keeps hitting home about the real things that matter in life and reinforces my whole philosophy of what you put out there is what you get back. I try not to be a shitty human, and I only hope that after my life is all said and done, that I won’t be alone with no one to love.
It’s hard to accept that this is a reality for many, especially after all of their family is gone. That just reiterates the whole born alone and die alone thing, which is kind of scary. All we have, are those we surround ourselves with.
Are these legitimate medical conditions? Mail and phone avoidance syndrome?
For the past month, my mother had been screening her phone calls like the Queen of Paranoia…yet again, hoping to avoid this lovely pastor’s phone calls as he attempted to make arrangements to get Bob’s ashes to his grieving family. And as karma likes to do things the neat and tidy way, the pastor conveniently had my dad’s mailing address and just popped him in the mail. How convenient is that?
As one thing led to another, after avoiding all the phone calls, my paranoid mother also decided to avoid the post office. And when the mail got backed up, guess what? They called for her to come and pick her shit up. I wonder, if you don’t answer, do they send out bounty hunters?
I’m kidding! That would suck. It’d make for an interesting story though, wouldn’t it? Ninjas would be even more entertaining, but anyway.
Prezzies you do not wish to receive
As the mail backed up the past few weeks (my father required some of it for work) my mother sent my dad packing to the post office. She warned him that his brother was coming and sent him out the door. I had no idea that Canada Post shipped these things and will stop licking my fingers when handling any paper, especially the mail. Dust…yuck.
Long story short, my uncle has finally arrived at my folk’s house, much to my mother’s dismay and discomfort. He hasn’t been formally invited inside as of yet and I figure it’ll take a little time. He’s not a cute puppy or a cuddly kitten after all.
The past few months have led to many a question and conversation as to where to put my uncle within my mother’s house. I, of course, smartassed-ly replied to place him in the laundry room after hearing of another family member doing the same with the remains of someone she didn’t know well either. I figure Uncle Bob might have many years of laundry experience or something along those lines after being in the clank, so I suggested she put him to good use.
I’m sure I got a dirty look from my mother when we were on the phone after I mentioned that…I could feel it. The guy that handed the box with Bob’s remains to my dad at the post office claimed that the box was heavy, so a paperweight perhaps? The postal worker was very apologetic for calling my dad’s brother heavy after the fact, by the way.
I’ve mentioned filling a small Zen sandbox with the ashes…you know, the ones with the tiny little rakes and pebbles you play in when stressed that sits on the coffee table? Ice melt for the sidewalks this winter? Maybe using the ashes to take off the water spots on her furniture? Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the dark and twisted sense of humor our family has!
Ah well, to be determined I suppose. Looks like the next time I go for a visit, I’ll finally get to meet the man, the myth, the legend in the flesh. I mean…well, was…I really don’t know how to put it. In the ash I guess would be more appropriate?
Some may not find this punny
I told Mom that if she’s stuck as to where to put him, I casually mentioned that Lea always loved company. I haven’t heard from her since and she’s not answering my phone calls now. I wonder why that is?
Just kidding! She laughingly told me that if I continued to be a smart-ash, Bob would be my uncle. I told her that that was a good one, but she’s still a pain in my ash.
Ha, she’s funny! I’m putting locks on all of our suitcases and searching my children before we leave the premises the next time we visit. Looks like we have a new game of pass the ashes in session…game on Mom! In the meantime, I’d better cover my ash and be prepared…she fights dirty.