A few weeks ago, when GS1 stayed with us for spring break, we discovered that his uncle and cousins had moved in just down the street. This uncle is brother to the bio father of GS2, who also raised GS1 until the shooting mess happpened. He was the one who stayed with GS1 and comforted him while his “dad” hightailed it off and away. I liked him before that and afterwards, I liked him even more. This hasn’t changed.
It’s interesting how patterns play out and repeat over generations. My mother and my Uncle Jim were the same age and classmates. She often said they “tried” to date, but had similar crazy personalities and found out they were better off as buddies. My father, Jim’s brother, was 5 years older and much more quiet and reserved. Truly, a case of opposites attracting. My daughter and Mitch, the uncle, are almost exactly 1 year apart, his BD on January 1, hers on January 2 of consecutive years. That’s how she met Clint, older by five years. They met when she was 13, then he got hauled off on some charge, probably drug related. He showed up later, they re-met, and the rest is history. Somehow our two families, which couldn’t be more different, have become inextricably intertwined. For good or ill, Clint is the only “dad” that GS1 has really known. His bio dad took off when he was barely 4 months old and hasn’t been seen since. His family will occasionally be in contact, but they live in Colorado Springs and Denver, so it’s all from a distance. One thing I will say about Clint, is that despite his various troubles, he never once differentiated between the two boys. He accepted GS1 as his son from the get go. This has definitely not been true of my daughter’s other liaisons, and regardless of his other pretty bad behaviors, I’ll always give him credit for this. The whole family, in fact, considers him one of theirs, and Mitch and all the kids were so happy to see him the day the stopped by to let G and me know they were living just a block away.
Mitch has five kids. Yes, five. They range from Aaron, at 13 and down in step-wise fashion. Their mother is either incarcerated or nowhere to be found. Mitch, unlike Clint and their father, never got sucked into the drug culture. He has always struck me as a kinder, gentler soul. His family is part Commanche, and he is very involved in that culture, doing Sun Dance in the summer, and sweat lodges, etc. He has somehow managed to keep all those kids together, with him, in school with good grades. I hadn’t seen them in years, and when they showed up at the house, I was surprised at how well behaved they all were.
Yesterday, I was watching the afternoon news, when I heard the side gate open and who should be running in but GS1, GS2 and cousin Aaron! Apparently, my daughter and Sammy (boyfriend, husband, whatever) had come down to visit his mother, who also lives here, and dropped the boys off with Mitch–of course no food, no help. They wanted to go skating, so G and I sprang for that last night. Walking behind them as we got in line at the skate place, it was interesting to see–GS1 towering over both his brother and his cousin, GS2 looking just like his dad, but all three of them very close and chatting about, “Remember when we did this?” “Remember when you did that?” I was never close to any of my few cousins, being raised in different states, so it was a poignant moment for me. Family isn’t just about blood, it’s where you’re put, and what you make of it, too.
Today was Aaron’s birthday. He came over and invited us to his BD party this afternoon. G and I flaked out after I came upstairs from my first work session, and got up just in time to walk down to the house. The kids were out playing with a basketball, the older boys sharing a couple of bikes between them. The pit bull puppy (of course, there’s always a pit bull puppy. At least this one is fixed.) kept getting out of the gate because no one could remember to close it behind them. G and I came in, and Mitch brought chairs for us. It was obvious that there was probably not going to be enough food for everyone. Just hot dogs and chips, and Mitch said Aaron wouldn’t have candles because he forgot to get them (or couldn’t afford them). Then his daughter piped up and said there were some candles in the house, and yes, there were at least 13. G and I felt bad that we had fallen asleep and didn’t have time to run out and at least get some potato salad or something to add, but we accepted our hot dogs, and chatted with Mitch’s dad who is living with him, but is still probably a huge druggie whenever he gets a chance. I hope the good of it will be that he’s a living example of how NOT to live your life. Pretty soon, it was time for me to leave in order to get back to work. I hugged the BD boy and told mine to be good. I wanted to take them some eggs or pancake mix or something for breakfast tomorrow. I wanted to weep that these kids probably only get one meal a day on the weekends. I thought about trying to bring something over anonymously, because I don’t want to put myself in the role of the gramma with money. It took 2 weeks, but Ariana (daughter) showed up at our door the other day, sent by her dad to ask for $10.00 for gas money. We don’t keep cash in the house for just that reason, so we weren’t lying when we said we didn’t have any money. I learned that hard lesson from my daughter (no, she never stole, but if you don’t have it on hand, you’re not lying when you say you’re out of cash). I don’t want to be in that position. On the other hand, I’d like to be able to offer something. I’m sitting here now just aching for those kids. There’s no doubt that their dad loves them more than anything. They seem to be pretty happy, they’re clean and dressed well enough, but five kids, my god, that just takes an endless supply of cash, even if you’re only covering the basics.
This is going to test me. I’ve been working very hard not to let my brain go to worst case scenarios over, well, just about everything. I am trying to ward off distractions. I am trying to learn what it is that *I* want versus just doing what has to be done because that precedence. I am working, working, WORKING those MBOs because if there was ever a case that needed a benevolent outcome, this is it. I keep coming back to the mantra I discovered when my daughter was giving me fits: Time passes, kids get older, things get better, or at least different. It will all work out. It will.