February 16, 2006
Uncle Kale was in some deep trouble. I think I heard Uncle Jim correctly. His words reverberated inside my head.
“I’m afraid for him. He’s been doing some bad things.” I wanted to say, so what else is new, but decided that it was best not said.
“It’s bad, it’s really bad this time.” He said shaking his head from side to side. I stepped outside the door to where he stood.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“look’a there.” He lowered his head as if talking about nothing of importance.
“There’s a woman slouched down in the back seat.” Uncle Kale waved his hand to me. I had to be friendly for the sake of the family, so I waved back.
“Walk with me to the car sis, don’t be shocked.” I shuffled in my slippers slowly toward the car. I had seen enough of Uncle Kale’s shenanigans and as far as I was concerned he could jump off a high diving board into a...well, some things are better left unsaid. I peered into the open window of the car and saw the young girl stretched out in the back seat.
“Hi, babe,” he said.” And motioned to the back of the car. ”Hilda, meet Rose.”
“Won’t you come in?” Yes, that was what I should say. Uncle Kale’s eyes twinkled and the mole on his nose twitched.
“Not this time.” Uncle Jim slid into the front seat with Uncle Kale and said, “bye sis.” And they drove off.
In the beginning my life was amazing. We were poor but the love of god was our wealth. My mother taught us eight children that God was stronger than any problem we would every have. My father drilled us to always stay together as a family. If he were still alive I might ask him how we should stay together when there was such a thing as abuse and rape. We loved our father’s brother. He was family but something went wrong and love and family were distorted.
It was early morning when the phone rang.
“What…shot…dead?” I hung up the phone. Uncle Kale was dead. I threw on my robe and sat on the side of the bed and took a deep breath. It was like a waterfall cascading, leaving me breathless. He was gone. But the pain was still there. How would I ever get rid of the pain? Before my uncle was buried my sister came to visit.
“You going to the funeral?” She asked.
“I’m not sure?”
“How can you not be sure, he was our daddy’s brother?” I threw the wet towel to the floor and shook my damp blond curls.
“I guess I’ll go then.”
They sat shoulder to shoulder on wooden chairs. The air was not dark but dull. Women were in disbelief, waving their fans, not sharing in their grief. A praying mother’s heartbreaking eyes knowing that a wayward son was dead. Yes the first wife was there dressed in black, the children clinging. He was shot, right through the temple, driving down the highway. He wasn’t by himself; my uncle Jim was with him. He couldn’t save him. He feared for his own life. Who did this horrendous thing or was it a sanction for all concerned? Some distraught man who had been weeping in the night, it was concerning his wife. Shall I cry for the sake of the families?
I walked or maybe I ran to the casket. He was there sure enough, surrounded in white satin, and the smell of flowers about his head. You could see where the bullet went through and then I wondered if I could have saved him. This must be the end. I walked away from the casket alone and surrounded myself with family and friends.
I would be strong for there are those who love me. I would be strong for there are those who care. I would be strong for there is much to suffer. I would look up and laugh and love and live.
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