Cafe Hitch-hike


Staying the hell out of the way

A group I head in the building is doing a bang-up (meaning "pretty all right") job with what it's been tasked to do. I wouldn't had believed anyone if they told me 4 years ago that I'd be working this positively and productively with anyone in the damn building. Keep it going, yeah!!

The suspect in my niece's homicide (circa October 2019) will be charged in the first week of April, and the trial will be soon after. I don't know if we will be able to be in the court in person or if they'll give us a link to view it. My sister (her mother) will be able to give a statement at the end. I actually planned on going since it's a reasonable drive for me, but we will see.

It all has crawled so slowly that I can barely believe it's real. I had to take out her death certificate (and see my name as its informant) to recall. It feels like a long, weird dream, like it didn't even happen. But no, it did. Her file is labeled "Arielle" and the one for Uncle Joe and is not far behind it.

Maybe that's what the psyche does to not get overwhelmed by the loss, anger, and tears. It turns it into a dream so we're not so shocked. A part of me wanted to cry tears more sorrowful than the ones I had after Arielle died.

I'm technically the third child born in my generation. Two older cousins were born in California, lived with their mother (their birth father is my uncle), grew up away from the family and were adopted by their step-father. These 2 female cousins for the most part were not scathed by the usual family curses (if I could call them such, so hah). One of them, Francesca, is only 2 weeks older than me and has a thriving health sciences practice out west. On a social media page, she shared some message cards with a Native American theme, which I liked. I replied by telling her we had it in our lineage.

The cousin F. reached out and wanted to know more. Over time, I sent her the documentation I had with that branch of the family tree, and a thesis that was written about it which I also sent her. However, I stepped gingerly...

...I don't know the full story of her father and her mother. I know bits and pieces of it and why her father drifted away, but I also (involuntarily) intercepted some seriously bad information about him that indirectly influenced that. was a complete throwback to my experience with my own estranged birth father. F. expressed interest but ambivalence with getting back in touch with him (he also has advanced stage prostate cancer). I know what all that is like. I didn't tell cousin Francesca about what a wonderful guy her father is, or that our family is great. I didn't tell her to get in touch right away or doing it is the right thing cos of his cancer. I basically did everything I wished someone told me when I was in that situation from 1988 to 1990.

I suggested to be open, equanimous, and go at her own pace. I said the family was rough around the edges (true), but they were caring, accepting, and do have love in their hearts (also very true). They had some hard knocks and losses that left them very edgy (without going into details about any of that), but they were very proud of her and what she became (very true, even her birth father said as much).

I didn't offer to be an social intermediary (also based on my own experiences). The cousin F. soon got in touch wither her step-mother Vanna (my uncle's estranged wife), and Vanna offered F. safe passage if she wanted to visit Texas to see her father or meet others. I also got in touch with Vanna to clue her in on our conversations, and we had a brisk one about all of that. Vanna and I agreed with each other's advice, and will just see what Francesca does to respond.

Gee, so here's another experience were I get to draw on my own colorful past. F's father wanted me to intervene 4 years ago when he found out he had cancer, and I eventually declined. I later told others that I didn't want to touch a topic that sensitive (basically, parental abandonment and estrangement). That was something between my uncle and his daughter.

Yeah, my advice was based on my own repressed hard feelings about my birth father and my struggles to grasp those issues. It was also based on the secrets I intercepted about my own birth father that my half-sisters found out 32 years later. I heard very similar things about my uncle and it crushed me. In both cases, I got the news because it just fell on my feet. But, as an old friend said, knowledge is power and to use it in whatever way I could. I definitely used it in an attempt to make sense of things, even if the conclusion was distressing. At least I finally knew and could (try to) understand.

I guess that's the best I can do in this situation: stay neutral, give objective information, and stay the hell out of things. Francesca is intuitive and she can proceed as she is guided. Other than that, I'm just keeping the rest to myself.

Such strange times... In a way, it makes me want to cry. But, something in me appreciates that I've been able to keep my cool and am trying to use what I know to assist without being intrusive or pushy, especially when it comes to sensitive topics. I reckon this is something I can add to my list of extremely unfortunate events and topics I've been able to experience, and pass along so they're not so unfortunate for others, topics like estrangements, abuse, grief, law enforcement, and death. Yeah, those topics and staying the hell out of the way.

And as if I'm bringing up so much happy news, yesterday was the 4th anniversary of Remy's passing (and my stepfather's was right before that). Last month, his best friend Bill interred Remy's ashes at the Jacksonville National Cemetery with full honors. Remy served in the navy, along with his salty father Frenchy. I was able to share his location with others who may be in the neighborhood.

Poor Remy was at the beginning of the line, and I felt myself fall apart in my chair.

downwind | upstream