The holidays haven’t been the same since 2012. It has taken me a long time to decide if I wanted to write about any of it, but writing is therapeutic for me and since I just renewed this blog for another year, I think I should put it to good use.
In 2012, my Uncle Sal decided he no longer wanted to be part of our family. It was a long time coming.
My grandmother adopted my mother in 1957 with the intent of having one child and one child only. She did not want to have a biological child and chose to adopt. When my mother was around nine months old, my grandmother unexpectedly became pregnant with my Uncle Sal.From the minute my uncle was born my grandmother made sure he knew that she never wanted him. Yes, she told him that. My grandmother also enrolled him in ballet and piano lessons even when he expressed disinterest in both. To say my grandmother was a bad mother wouldn’t be entirely true, but it wouldn’t be false either.
Without airing all of our dirty laundry, I will just say that for years my uncle resented my mother for being treated differently. Similarly, my mother felt that my uncle was treated differently. She would be told to do all of the chores while my uncle practiced the piano. Suffice it to say, both children grew up to harbor resentment toward each other and their mother.
My Pop-pop was one of the greatest men I have ever known and he never uttered a single bad thing about anyone. However, he used to say he knew that one day when he was no longer around to keep the peace, my uncle would explode. It seems my Pop-pop was psychic…
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that set everything into a spiral, but there was a series of unfortunate events that led to one big explosive argument. We all said things that we shouldn’t have said. We all did things we shouldn’t have done. We also never imagined that it would go on this long and we would never see him again.
You see, my uncle was a father figure in my life. We went on trips together and he was with me during some of the biggest moments in my life. This is the fifth holiday season without my Uncle Sal ( and subsequently my cousins too) and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad. Every Christmas Eve Uncle Sal would come over. Sometimes he would come early if Christmas Eve fell on a Tuesday or Wednesday, when he was off work. Other times he would arrive closer to 8 or 9 and we would save him a plate. He always wore his trademark red sweater/sweatshirt. He would bring his keyboard over and we would sing Christmas carols. Sometimes we would play cards or board games. It just felt like family. Dysfunctional, maybe, but family.
Now I have a husband who has never met my uncle. He has never experienced Christmas with him. When I look at the piano in our living room it’s a constant reminder of what could have been.
Over the last five years we have tried reaching out, to no avail.
So just in case he does read my posts, here it goes:
Last April I attempted to communicate with you. Your reply was “Do you remember?” I wasn’t exactly sure what you meant by this, but then it dawned on me you may have meant do I remember when you told me to run as far away as possible from my family. Sure. I remember.
You know what else I remember?
I remember big family dinners where we made sure to save you a plate when you got off work and I couldn’t wait to hear your jokes. I remember when you played the piano at the Ramada and we went to support you. I remember going on long car trips like Niagara Falls and Luray Caverns. I remember telling you that you were like a dad to me, because you were. I remember you teaching me how to drive. I remember the Big Red in West Virginia. I remember Lancaster. I remember going on the Ferris wheel with you at the Mt. Carmel festival. I remember a lot of things.
So if you meant do I remember all of the negative moments? Sure. But I choose not to dwell on them. I choose to forgive. I choose to live my life positively, because it’s the exact opposite of what my grandmother does and did. I choose to be different and to not hold grudges.
Do you remember not wanting to be anything like her? Do you remember?