Two weeks ago we visited my grandma, Lola Mendez Metallo, in the assisted living complex. She told us a story I had never been made aware of.
When her own grandmother was only 15 years old, on the way home from church, she was kidnapped by a widowed man who already had 4 children; being forced to become his wife and have children with him.
One of those children born to her was my grandma’s father.
My grandma explained that sort of thing wasn’t uncommon in Michoacán, Mexico back in those days.
It’s a dark story, and a strange part of our family tree.
I also know that your great-grandmother on Mommy’s side came to America from Ireland, as an indentured servant.
That couldn’t have been too awesome.
However, the fact that our family tree contains “broken branches” is nothing unique to our family. Climb any family tree in America, and it won’t take long to find some less than perfect situations which eventually led to modern day.
You and I also share Native American blood. I’m sure there’s an interesting story somewhere with that too. By interesting, I mean less than desirable.
It seems most old movies about the Wild West conveniently portray “the Americans” as the good guys and “the Indians” as the bad guys. (Accidental racist?)
I think about this stuff. Our family tree consists of both oppressors and victims.
While it’s easy to be removed from the reality that our ancestors had to experience because it was so long ago, if it weren’t for their hardships, we wouldn’t be here today. Their lives were just as real as ours are now.
Even just to think: Mommy was born as the 9th child of her family. How few American households in 1981 had a 9th child born?
The fact that Mommy was ever born is a rare enough situation to try to grasp.
You’re not here by accident, son. You are part of this universe for a purpose.
Being that I spend most of my lunch breaks at Borders, over the past year I have been acquiring a small library of discounted books. One of my purchases off the “five dollar clearance rack” was a huge colorful book on Feng Shui. While I have yet to spend much time really learning these ancient Chinese secrets, I did scan through a few chapters. One of the concepts of Feng Shui that I did pick up on warned against long uninterrupted straights, whether the layout of the house is based on one basic hallway or the driveway to the house has no turns. Without turns and interruptions along a straight path, one might “fall out of the house and out of their own yard”. That’s considered “bad Feng Shui”.
If you are able to grasp that concept for the most part (which I think for some strange reason I can), then maybe you can understand my recent perspective on how having Baby Jack relates back to Feng Shui, if nothing else, in my own sleep-deprived head. Recently, some of my cosmic insecurities have been heavily resolved as I realize that by being a parent, I am forever in the middle of a generation, no longer the tail end. I am no longer the tree itself, but instead one of the branches on someone else’s family tree. No longer am I a coastal state like Rhode Island or South Carolina, exposed the possibility of breaking off in the Atlantic Ocean, only separated by a few thousand miles from giant Africa; instead, I am now landlocked Kansas. Like sitting in the middle of the third row seat in a 15 passenger van on a church mission trip to Mexico; like no longer being on the outer edge in a herd of zebras escaping from a hungry lion, so am I.
As a parent, I now feel more Feng Shui. I will not “fall out” out the universe into outer space without it being immediately noticed. Because I am no longer simply a husband; I am a father. And being a father doesn’t simply hold importance in the direct care of my son, but also in an undeniable eternal sense. Baby Jack is not just simply a cute little Bambino. He is a spiritual being who I am responsible for.
I am no longer an island of any kind. More than ever before, I am needed and necessary in this world. What I do from this point has potentially everlasting outcomes. I won’t look back on my life when I’m an old man and think, “I lived such an empty life.” Because I will always be linked back to my son. So cosmic, man.
“These moments, they can never last; like a sad old man with his photographs keeps wishing for the things he can not change.”