I’ve received some news today. An uncle has passed away.
My uncle Manuel, brother of my late-Father died recently.
Such a strange loss. I was never really close to him, to be utterly honest, I can’t even put a face to the name. Yet, he is family, so obviously, this should mean something, at least something more than the words that carried the news.
But you can’t be sad for something you never had, and maybe in the back of my mind, I might recognize his face in some family reunion in the past, but with or without context and association, I’ve got nothing.
I mean, my Grandfather, despite the lack of communication, had a sense of welcomeness about him. I never felt distant or estranged with him, despite the language barrier. With my Uncles and Aunts, there’s a lot more complexity in the way. In my young eyes, I saw them not as relatives but more like they’re family friends of my parents, there was hardly a sign or indication that they– err we were related. Family reunions felt more like a gather of people. Visits had no indication of blood-ties. There’s just nothing there for me to see that I’m related to these people who are hugging me and telling me that they remember me from years ago, or from when I was blank high.
Upon writing this, I’m thinking about how the girls see me. I am their Mother’s Brother, so do I show that? Am I seen as something more than another adult in their eyes? Do I earn that title of “Uncle” and fulfill the responsibilities involved?
Heh, then I remember them saying that I’m their favorite uncle, the last time they were here, and then they leave, and each time, they come back, I’m hoping that I can still be considered their Uncle, I’m not aiming for “The Favorite” but I’m aiming to be simply recognized as to have a bond more than just the word ‘Uncle’, I want something with the girls that I never got from my own Uncles and Aunts: A Bond.
I knew my Grandfather had a Library of Wisdom and Knowledge that I would’ve loved to spend years to tap, and he was gone, and I knew I had lost something when he passed, but now I’ve lost an Uncle, a man I almost never knew on a personal level, I don’t know what he did, what his interests were, or even where he’s placed on the family lineage, or whether or not he’s older or younger than my own parents! Granted, I forget how old my own siblings are, but I can at least place them in Chronological order. And I’m more than confident my own parents can do more than just list them in order, all 14+ Uncles and Aunts on both sides!
But now, there’s something missing. a Bond involves 2 parties, one on each side. You see, my sister and Brother-in-law are well aware of distant relatives being commonplace, especially among Mexican and Hispanic families, so they put effort for the benefit of their daughters, to have them be aware of something beyond the simple family structure, which is also common in Hispanic families.
Neither my parents nor my Aunts and Uncles went above and beyond, like my Sister and her Husband did, for whatever their reasons are, this gap now between relatives is ultimately the result. I can’t shed tears over someone I didn’t know existed. As sad as it sounds, hearing this doesn’t do anything to me, I didn’t even know I had an Uncle Manuel!!
But that’s the problem, isn’t it?
Like my grandfather, he also had experiences and knowledge that I could’ve learned from. Experiences, jokes, a point of view that I could’ve compared life to, lost perspective is a lost treasure. I guess if I was trying to find some sort of reason to be sad of his passing, I would see that I could’ve had something with the man who’s gone. I mean thinking about it, it’s like a cheat to get a new friend, this guy would’ve felt obligated to talk to me because I’m related to him. I mean, how often does someone felt like they needed a new friend or a new perspective on life?
I should’ve taken the opportunity to at least try to get to know them, but even now my Spanish is shaky and broken, I don’t know if that’ll be seen as disrespectful or just plain ignorant. Not to mention that I would be representing my own family, and that includes whatever bad blood that lies between them and my parents, so if they had any reason to be against my parents, they would place themselves against me. My being the one left outside the loop, I would’ve been subject to hostility from an unknown source. It’s a risk either way.
So, as I try to find sentimentalism in nothing, I will see that this, in of itself, is a cause for sadness. Because there is nothing to be sad over when someone of my Kin dies, that will be the reason for my sadness. I will mourn him because I have absolutely no reason to. And that itself, is a valid reason to miss him.