Knuckle Dragging Neanderthal Kinfolks

Around the time Ma went to Shady Pines, I created a Facebook account under that other name. The one I was born with, to make contact with family. Ma was always my connection with them, my assorted anxieties, my past, my guilt over SO many things, made it uncomfortable to be around my own family, in person anyway.

But the innerwebs? Dude I'm a ROCK STAR on the innerwebs. Okay maybe not a rock star, but when I don't have to concentrate so hard on not drawing attention to myself, it's easier to BE myself.

So I gave it a shot.

I added family I've dearly missed, people from town, co workers, Long Lost Daughter, my best friend (from Cinderella pre-school 'til I dropped out of high school and got my G.E.D,) an old boy friend who, for a year or so became my Boyfriend (and who The Amazon kinda favors... I've been redoing the math but that was 29 years ago. Ya'll know I don't do mathy things on a good day,) even my 5th grade teacher.

I loved connecting with Dad's side of the family. I have so many cousins I've never met, having distanced myself from them over the years, not knowing how much they knew about why my parents really got divorced, not knowing what was said and the crippling fear that I'd run in to him somewhere. I was relieved at how accepting they were. We swapped pictures, we played a lot of "remember when," talked about Mamaw.

Ya'll know I loved my mamaw.

Finding old friends was awesomesauce. I've spent over 20 years here in the holler, hidden away in the middle of nowhere, with cousins I never really knew, not knowing anyone that I grew up with or who knew me before I became a so socially paralyzed that I have to take anxiety medication before I can go in Walmart.

I used to actually have friends. I used to go out. There was a time I was almost human.


It quickly became apparent, however, that the folks on Ma's side of the family were nothing like I remembered them. When LLD found me, I introduced her to them, explaining that I'd placed her for adoption 23 years ago and that we were getting to know each other. I knew she wanted to know more about her family. I waited a few days.

No one said One. Damned. Word.

I thought.. dang.. I'll just message them! I'll explain, maybe they don't check their account that often. The silence was deafening. These were not the people I remembered.

I was also embarrassed. With LLD's permission, I shared pictures of my grand babies. Who can resist pudgy, little, dirty faces???

Judgmental, self absorbed A-holes, that's who . I could almost see them sitting there with their twisted up mouths, looking like they smelled something nasty.

I told myself it was a difficult situation, maybe they just needed time to to get used to the idea.

In the meantime, I sent Ma's brothers the address and phone number at the nursing home. I remembered how she had taken them all in at some point in time, took care of their kids, practically raised some of them.

When Uncle Alonzo was a cute little ginger baby, Big Daddy (my grandfather) would come home from a week working on the railroad and get sloppy drunk, ranting, raving and threatening to drown little Alonzo, claiming he wasn't his. Ma would wrap him up in a blanket and go hide in the bushes up behind the can house until Big Daddy passed out.

 I was like.... fine. Ignore me. At least they could make Ma's life a little easier by reaching out.

None of them have bothered to call her. One cousin did send her a Christmas card.


I tried to ignore the racist remarks. Apparently they're under the illusion that they're all white. I have news for them. I might be a genetic wonder, thanks to dear old dad, but on Ma's side, we're all part Choctaw, part Gypsy and a little bit black. If you ask them, they'll tell you they're German and Irish, which is true, but not the whole story. I'm not sure how Uncle and Cousin Alonzo explain the family name they got pinned with, but I'm pretty sure it has something to with my Puerto Rican 5th gr-grandfather.

Uncle Alonzo was a different person when we were all younger. He towered over the rest of the family, always laughed loud and smiled a lot. Now he lives in his fancy house in Colorado with his motorcycles and SUV, constantly bitching about how those welfare people are taking money out of his pocket. The last thing he posted was a sign that referenced how the "working people" were being taxed to the brink so the government could give the money to able bodied people who refused to work.

I'd like to point out that his wife has been on disability for her back the entire time they've been married. I can remember when she was pregnant with her first born, sitting in our living room, shaking all over because she was going through the DTs.

Ya'll can draw your own conclusions.

So I asked him, who are all these people? It's nearly impossible to get disability, I've been on welfare and food stamps when I needed it. It's not like Uncle Sam is just handing that shit out. You have to jump through some serious hoops to get any kind of assistance. Unemployment only lasts a limited time. Where is all this money they're giving away? And why can't I get any of it... seeing how he's being "taxed to the brink."

The following day, his son posted a picture of his garage, with his custom sports car and not one, not two, not three, but FOUR motorcycles, and the caption "A garage without toys isn't a garage."

Look, I'm not an idiot. I know there are people who play the system and they make it harder to get help when you need it, but I don't think Uncle Alonzo or his family is doing without a whole hell of a lot. He is certainly not being "taxed to the brink."

Today, my cousin B, who grew up right across the street from me, posted some quote from Martin Luther King Jr. and made a racially hateful remark. What he said could have been applied to any triflin' human. I pointed it out. He said, "yeah but some are just naturally better at it than others."

So I deactivated the account. In the insightful words of Sweet Brown:

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That!
My whole life I've worried what they'd think of me. I've carried shame about the Daddy stuff plus other decisions I've made that led me down the winding road that's gotten me here today.

Today? Today I'm still ashamed. I'm ashamed to call those people my family. I am who I am.

If I could give up sitting in my dilapidated trailer, making jewelry, negotiating with the power company and trudging to work in a factory every day, but still being able to love, to smile, to make other people smile, and trade it for a life of having plenty of money, sitting in a fancy house with lots of toys, yet feeling deprived, miserable, full of hate and judgment of others....

Well I'm just fine where I am, thank you very much.

Does that mean I'll quit fighting what I'm sure is nothing more than corporate greed at the company where I've worked for 18 years, just to get my 40 hour work week?

Hell no.

I'll keep fighting, I'll keep trying. I'll keep swimming. But I will not be ashamed of who I am anymore.

Maybe Himself made me this way, kinda plain, kinda poor, pretty fat.. so I could see these things in those people. Maybe, it's just how things needed to be.

As God intended.


And Amen.


rennratt said...

My dear, sweet friend. You get my greatest respect for at least TRYING to have a relationship with your extended family.

They, on the other hand, have my pity. They're missing out on a heck of a funny, thoughtful and resourceful woman. It's their loss.

Much love,

A Fellow Trailer Dwelling Sturdy Girl

Mahala said...

Love you too girlie :) And I'm thinking, with your permission, "Trailer Dwelling Sturdy Girl" should go on a coffee mug in my shop. I love that lol.

kenju said...

What Renn said.

MissMaryMack said...

Amen sistah! We are beautifully and wonderfully made and He knew us before we were born!

Teressa Welch said...

My ex-husband never said too many intelligent things that I can recall when we were together, but he did give me this one gem, in reference to my asshole verbally abusive father, which I'm about to share with you:

Consider the source.

I've treasured those words since the day they were uttered. I hope they can bring you comfort and peace, as well.

Blessed be. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Good grief, family. Shame you can't pick 'em, and a shame they don't have the eyes to see more clearly what they're missing out on.

You win, Mahala. They might not get that, but you do win. I do wish it was you with the garage full of fancy vehicles, though. That seems more fitting.


BetteJo said...

Y'know it was kind of startling the day I realized that I don't like a lot of my family. Not sure if they like me but I don't think I care. It is what it is, y'know? Your family isn't always the ones with blood ties. Family is whoever you want it to be. Eff 'em all Mahala! And a Ma in a nursing home really weeds out the A-holes!