I think it was a trigger no one knew was one, but it set off so many things inside me. Maybe this should come with a trigger warning? Do memoirs have trigger warnings?
My daughter gained access to my uncle’s Facebook page (something I can’t even find, and now have no wish to find) with his assistance one day when they were spending some time together (with her kids too) in the park across the street where we all live (where I’ve lived most of the time since I was born), and somehow, on her iPhone, this Facebook thing occurred.
One of his photo albums there is called “My ‘Daughters'” … mind you, my uncle never had children. These are the daughters of his recently deceased girlfriend of about 29 years and some Asian girl I never even knew, or knew about for that matter. Now, back (way back) when I was part of their social life (before, I guess, the Asian girl entered it), I recall watching the way Karen’s daughters would fawn over him; their familial ease around him, the indeed daughterly way they interacted with him. I thought at the time that I was happy for him, happy that he’d found a family for himself with Karen and her daughters.
Anyway: There is no album of his actual blood family; not of his mother, father, sister, niece. I happen to know that photos exist of us together, when I was a child and a teenager and a young adult. None of those photos are posted on Facebook. There’s something about the five women who shaped his life or inspired him or something; so far there seem to be only some photos posted: Eva Marie Saint (to whom he delivered groceries when he was 12), Linda Ronstadt (who he believes has the most perfect pitch and tone in the world), and others I don’t know, probably early girlfriends or someone; I’m not sure.
Back to his “daughters.” The two of them who were Karen’s are, in order of age, the people who will control and manage his estate after his death. After he’s been gone for 10 years, the money will be split among the three of us in a way that favors me as they have to split their half; mine is, well, all mine. I don’t really care terribly much about all that stuff. What I find myself so upset about is the main reason I have never been and can never be close to my uncle. It happened 40 years ago, and it’s haunted me and in some ways shaped my life ever since.
One evening, when I was 15 years old, after my grandmother had been diagnosed with a heart problem and wasn’t ever to be upset by anything, she and I had an argument over something (I haven’t got a clue). My uncle was called to come over and mediate this issue. My grandmother, who was my guardian (warm and fuzzy family: not), spoke her “side” before I did; and then, the way it had been laid out to us, it was my turn to speak. I said “That’s not true” … three words … and my uncle got up from where he was sitting and started whacking my head around via my face. How many whacks there were I don’t know because somewhere in the middle of the whole thing, counting went out the window. By the time he was done, my spirit was well crushed and my throat was swollen shut; when he yelled at me to apologize to my grandmother, I was unable to vocalize the words, so I just mouthed them. I did that several times before my grandmother told him to just let me go to my room. She had to say that twice before he stopped yelling at me to apologize and let me just go.
I don’t think I ever upset her again. For the rest of my life, I’ve really tried hard to never upset anyone again. I can’t confront anyone; I’d rather curl up in a little ball, and sometimes I do. I cannot confront anyone successfully; most of the time I avoid it, pretty much at all costs; and if I ever try, I fail woefully. It’s sort of like being unable to swim and flailing uselessly in the water, not treading but headed toward drowning.
That’s his legacy. Not whatever Shari or Bari will be defending; not whatever comes to me after he’s been dead for 10 years. It’s me, as I am, still frightened and living under his 6’3″ ex-Marine shadow ever since he robbed me of my voice.