A few days ago I received a message on facebook from a distant relative, 2,000 miles away and of a kinship that would require clarification with a phone call to my mother. No matter, we’ll call her a cousin. I suspect she found me on said social network via an aunt (mother’s sister, so I’m clear on this one) who asked me to befriend her a few months back. I don’t necessarily view online networks as appropriate venues for family members to be introduced to one’s cohorts, or perhaps even one’s predilections or opinions that would otherwise be carefully avoided at the bastin reunion. Yet, I hit “accept” and figure what the heck, how out of line am I going to get, anyway?
That’s assuming there’s a line, of course. If there is, I have a hard time determining it’s placement at times, and perhaps this is reason enough to keep family out of the picture, but like I said, “What line?” And it is because of this, I draw my own line, and inform those with my blood that they are about to enter a world that they may suspect is there, but up to this point they have not experienced first hand.
Or rather, that’s what I used to do. I didn’t this time, and it may be because of the aforementioned distances.
The flipside, of course, is that I am granted reciprocal privileges to snoop about. I did just that with ‘Cuz’.
As indicated, if Cuz and I are related at all, it is on my mother’s side. Cuz and her folks were annual visitors to my grandparent’s farm, and now that Grandma and Grandpa have passed on, stop in on my mother from time to time on their way to see other family members that live in central Illinois. Some of those family members live in the town where my grandparents had their farm. I have a great aunt still there, and an uncle, again a sibling of my mother. He, in fact, lives in my grandparents’ house.
He, too, is a maker of his own lines, for he has no others to judge by, and, not surprising, is somewhat of a character.
One of his lines is in regards to the house. He prefers to limit visitors to those he knows he cannot turn away. Those people are my mother and my aunt. While my mother chooses to stay away unless she absolutely has to be there, my aunt will insist on staying overnight in her old bedroom.
Bedrooms in this house have always posed a mystery for me. You see, there were four children, two of each gender, and two parents in what would be described as your typical, square, four-room, two-bedroom farmhouse. The kitchen is a converted back porch and the bathroom is what used to be a kitchen. Where did they put all of those kids?
Well, my aunt was born the year before my mother moved out, so there’s that. The boys, so I understand, slept in what became the dining room when all of the kids, including my brother and I, were less-frequent visitors. So, they managed. Folks do.
But I was writing about my uncle…
He sleeps sitting in a chair, having the same congenital shoulder degeneration that both my mother and I share. (My mother and I still sleep prone.) And it may be that the chair is the only surface left, apart from my aunt’s bed, that is not occupied by his styrofoam cup collection, old newspapers, etc. The termites have had their way with much of it as well; the bathroom facilities installed in 1972 when we got city water are no longer functioning; and Rose of Sharon bushes have taken over where there once was a yard with grass to mow. You get the picture. He gets it as well, and therefore discourages prying — and judgmental — eyes. (I only have second-hand knowledge of these things, as I have stayed away as well.)
Cuz apparently was unaware of his preference. And it is her we can thank for this photo:
The caption on the photo was “Chub’s tractor.” That was my grandfather’s nickname. If I remember correctly, it is a 1954 Ford, maybe ’52. As of three years ago, the Bush Hog was still attached.
Folks have stopped and offered my uncle money for the Ford. He’s on disability SSI. He refuses.