Family?

quiet_calamity_by_megatruh

I get up early every morning to watch the sunrise.  The colors and shapes made by the decorative glass bowls and statues are beautiful.  The light from the blinds enhances the movement of the sunlight from east to west; first bright and then dimming as light follows time to bed.

I watch the trees as they obey the breeze, bending ever so slightly.   Sitting alone and drinking my tea, I glory in what God has done.  I am so thankful.

I finish my drink and begin thinking about waking Arthur – starting his day.  Maybe I’ll make him some coffee.  He prefers it over tea;  with honey, even.  I pick up the remote, turn on the television, then pad to the kitchen.  I am wearing my soft bedroom slippers.  My feet are warm and comfy.  The television is tuned to the news – MSNBC -, thanks Arthur.  He sleeps and wakes, prepares for work to MSNBC.  I don’t, can’t, don’t want to be so immersed in the news.  So I keep walking.

Trump, I’m told, wants to end DACA
Trump wants a wall between the USA and Mexico
Trump has established a tax structure that gives corporate entities millions forever; but has minimal increases for US citizens for a 5-year period
Trump is eliminating the largest and most often used middle class tax deductions
Trump will kill Obama Care and Medicare and Social Security, and eventually, the VA
Trump has rewritten consumer protection laws such that corporations cannot be held liable for injuries they cause to the people.  No more class action suits
Trump loves guns and hates Hillary
Trump does not provide FEMA assistance to Puerto Rico – (Okay, he provides unequal and minimal care to Puerto Rico, and did not provide the same care to Louisiana as he did to Oklahoma.
Trump doesn’t believe in global warming or the EPA

I couldn’t avoid hearing the discussion even in the kitchen.  My fault.  I didn’t check the volume when I turned on the set.  Arthur likes it loud.  Really loud. So loud that he can’t hear anything that happens in the house.  Wonder if that’s on purpose. Huh.

That got me thinking about family.  I’ve been a member of many families; have opted to remove myself from some,  been asked to exit from others.  I was young, but I wondered, what component makes the family infallible?  I don’t mean that they don’t make mistakes.  But that sometimes, in some families, mistakes are less important than the person.  Or vice versa.  Some families curse and kick and scream at each other, then drive to work or school, feed the kids, wash the clothes and clean the house – together.   In their youth they may fight each other day and night,  but anyone – anyone at all – who bothers one of them is going down.  Harshly.  I know families who don’t know loneliness because they have each other.  They cry on each other’s shoulders and in each other’s laps.  Unashamed, they tell their saddest stories, their greatest losses without fear of shame or blame.  They’ll tell everyone eventually, but first the most trusted and most constant friend (whatever the familial relationship) has to know.  In these families there are no secrets.  Everyone knows everything you’ve ever accomplished, every discrepancy you’ve ever told, every indiscretion you’ve ever committed and they still love you.  Because they also know, and prefer to remember, every good thing you’ve ever done.  So, when anyone is in trouble everyone comes to help him heal.  And they keep trying, no matter how difficult the situation or how many times they are needed.  They talk to each other.  They laugh at each other.  They have celebrations for things that go right and go wrong.  They teach each other, and they learn from each other.  I have discovered that it doesn’t matter whether there’s a Mom and Dad, or if the adult role is played by Uncle Sue or Aunty Bob.  Or older brother Ben.

There’s always food to eat.  There’s always a place to sleep.  For everyone.  These families have – what?

Let’s skip the in between and go right to the opposite of the above –

The families who regularly beat each other up, and mean it.  There’s no respect for anyone, there is no friendship – or trust.  These persons suffer sexual, mental, physical and verbal abuses in their own homes.  Because they are afraid, or are conditioned to accept these personal violations, they cannot – will not fight back.  They are victimized into being victims.  When they go out they return with new exposures to other forms of abuse from other forms of family.  School friends and teachers.  Church members.  Team members.  Strangers.  Babysitters.  Kids who don’t like them.  Bullies.

They bring all that home with them.  There is no safety net.  They are alone, no support, no help, no defenses.  So they are abused some more.

And there is the family that, as I watched, squared off for murder.  Two brothers on opposite ends of the block, ducking behind buildings, trucks, whatever was available, shooting at each other.  Trying to kill each other because one had slept with the other’s wife.  Low, right? It was strange enough.  I had just met them.  And just as I met them, they were shooting.  A hot summer day in Alabama a mother was telling the older sister to  “go get them”, to “Make them stop.”  Sis never moved.  “Let them kill each other.  They stupid enough to sleep with each other’s women.   Nothing’s changed around here.”  The shooting ended when one of the men ran off.  The other, after threatening to follow and kill his brother, went into the house, fell into bed, and finally went to sleep.  It took much pleading from the mother.  No crying.  There was discussion, sure.  But eventually everything returned to what I supposed was the norm for this family.  Shoot, everyone was undisturbed but me.  I was shaken and ready to go home.  Big Sis wasn’t ready to go, though.  We had to go into the dark, 3-room house with a pot-bellied stove sitting in the middle of the living/bedroom floor.

But then as I was told more about this family –  a daughter forced to have sex in exchange for a bottle of whisky, beatings when she didn’t comply; being hit with an axe for refusing to have sex with a drunken man; the mother’s fights with police; the constant fighting; the potential murder of an acquaintance because of an insult that wasn’t well tolerated which resulted in the relocation of the child (now 17) from Alabama to Michigan.  Havoc had a new home.

One family masqueraded as street thugs; selling drugs, committing assaults, home invasions and various thefts.  Some became gang leaders and managed to kill a few people before being killed themselves.  The oldest of these siblings set his grandmother’s house on fire while she slept because she wouldn’t give him money to buy drugs.  She would never support his drug habits or his street activity.  So she had to go.  She did not die.  She made it out of the house while he watched from across the street.  And she forgave him for what he had done.  What creates such strength as to forgive attempted murder?  Of oneself?  These were her children, “regardless”.  This little woman, small and roundish, quietly determined that these were her children, acceptable just as they were.  She did not condone what they had done, but chose to look at their beginnings to understand their end.  Their lives from birth had been dysfunctional – an invisible (never present) father who freely spread his seed throughout the city and the South (no one was certain how many children he had.  The best estimate was 20), a nonfunctional mother who provided no discipline – no presence – no guidance.  These children were beautiful; they were smart, and they were angry.  I had a favorite among these children.  She, again, was beautiful.  Again, she was smart.  She was also kind.  She died at the hands of a john who beat her, raped her, killed her and threw her naked body out of a moving vehicle into traffic on a Detroit street.  The memory of her softness, her gentleness still haunts me.  We became fast friends on meeting.  Unfortunately, we enjoyed just a couple of conversations before she was gone   I still miss her.

Anyway, the children saw themselves as survivors.  They did well in school but could not find their way in society.  They blamed only themselves for their actions, finding no luxury or truth in accusing others.  Only once was their an excuse, “He shouldn’t have pulled a gun on me.  He still be alive if he hadn’t pulled a gun on me.  He pulled the trigger three times.  And now he is dead.”  Because he was a small time name in the criminal world; familiar to police and other gang members –  he could not walk away.  He certainly couldn’t run.  He had to kill the man who tried to kill him.  And now he is dead.  After serving a number of years in prison then returning to his old ways, he is dead.  The opposing gang came to his funeral with guns, lined up against the walls of the funeral home chapel and laughed while the family mourned.  They made it clear that they were armed and had come purposely to kill.  The police were called; they came and, when it was over, everyone went home safe and uninjured.  Definitely shaken.  Trust me, the parking lot and the street surrounding the funeral home cleared faster than airplane take offs.  But, the family came knowing there was danger in being there.   And they came.  And they came to the next brother’s funeral under the same circumstances.   They were not trying to prove how tough they were.  They were mourning one of their own.  They refused to abandon their children because of fear.

There are some children who are passed over state lines from one relative to another; criss-crossing the country following major infractions or simple cases of disobedience.    Schools won’t accept them anymore.  They’ve become outsiders.  But the family keeps trying and make it worse by creating non homes; a kind of living no place that the children tolerate until they are old enough to create their own places, their own lives.

So I wonder – is there a main ingredient that no one can identify – an intangible but cohesive substance that ensures an individual’s safety and health?  I mean, is it in our genetic code?  Do some of us decide that we will, no matter what, no matter how, love and nurture the people with whom we live?  Does the heart matter?  Is there a thread connecting all three?  If so, if one connection fails is the entire movement lost?  Why doesn’t occur in all families?

I wonder.  How can humans, being only humans, be so different, so distant from each other.  How can each individual be so different from the other that they can’t recognize the dangers and pitfalls of living.

Just one person might be enough to save just one person.  And, besides, we’re all family.  Ask the genetic specialists, they’ll tell you it’s true.

I chose the picture above because I don’t know what the young lady is doing on that precipice.  It is dark, she is sitting on the outermost edge of the precipice – but she is holding a string connected to I don’t know what.  I can’t tell if she’s happy or sad – the surroundings are bleak, but that doesn’t tell anything about her condition or her life.

As we watch, though, we are a community; empowered to stop watching and to intercede on her behalf.  Whomever is nearest her has the ability and possibly the insight to change her condition if not her life.  She will know whether to accept or reject the effort.

I have momentarily mused myself into stillness.  The coffee is ready and Arthur is on his way down.  Breakfast must need be fruit.  I have fixed nothing else.  I am back in the world of Trump, but I turn to the light.  This is the sustenance of the world – the thing that along with its sisters rain and wind – nourishes everything.  I can dismiss Trump – his time, like so many others, is short – and go on pondering the faces of family.

Talk to you soon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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